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Full text of "The Negro in Chicago; a study of race relations and a race riot"

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JK 1928 L 

Copyright 192J By 
The University of Chicago 

All Rights Reserved 

Published September 1922 
Second Impression January 1923 

Comp5Sj4 jnd Printed By 
,* "rtie tlni»ersity' (J Cfiicago Press 
'. « -piic^go, liiBcJsJ U.S.A. 



List of Illustrations ix 

List of Maps x 

Foreword by Honorable Frank O. Lowden xiii 

Introduction xv 

The Problem xxiii 

Chapter I. The Chicago Riot, July 27-AuGUST 2, 1919 . . . . 1-52 

Background of the Riot 2 

The Beginning of the Riot 4 

Chronological Story of the Riot 5 

Factors Influencing Growth of the Riot 9 

Gangs and "Athletic Clubs" 11 

Types of Clashes 17 

Crowds and Mobs 22 

Rumor 25 

PoUce . 33 

Mihtia 4° 

Deputy Sheriffs 43 

Restoration of Order 43 

Aftermath of the Riot ' . . 46 

Outstanding Features of the Riot 48 

Chapter II. Other Outbreaks in Illinois 53-78 

Clashes in Chicago preceding the Riot of 19 19 53 

Racial Outbreaks in Waukegan, May 31 and June 2, 1920 . . . 57 

The "Abyssinian" Affair, June 20, 1920 59 

The Barrett Murder, September 20, 1920 64 

The Springfield Riot, August 14-15, 1908 ....... 67 

East St. Louis Riots, May 28, and July 2, 191 7 71 

Chapter III. The Migration of Negroes from the South . . . 79-105 

Economic Causes of the Migration 80 

Sentimental Causes of the Migration 84 

Beginning and Spread of Migration 86 

The Arrival in Chicago 93 

Adjustments to Chicago Life 94 

Migrants in Chicago 97 

Efforts to Check Migration 103 

Chapter IV, The Negro Population of Chicago 1 06-1 51 

Distribution and Density 106 

Neighborhoods of Negro Residence 108 




Adjusted Neighborhoods io8 

Non-adjusted Neighborhoods 113 

Neighborhoods of Organized Opposition 115 

Bombings 122 

Trend of the Negro Population 135 

Outlying Neighborhoods 136 

The Negro Community 139 

Commercial and Industrial Enterprises 140 

Organizations for Social Intercourse 141 

Religious Organizations 142 

Social and Civic Agencies 146 

Medical Institutions 150 

Chapter V. The Negro Housing Problem 152-230 

General Living Conditions 152 

Why Negroes Move 154 

Room Crowding 156 

Rents and Lodgers 162 

How Negro Families Live 165 

A Group of Family Histories 170 

Physical Aspects of Negro Housing 184 

Neighborhood Improvement Associations 192 

Efforts of Social Agencies 193 

Negroes and Property Depreciation 194 

Financial Aspects of Negro Housing 215 

Negroes as Home Owners 216 

Financial Resources of Negroes 227 

Chapter VI. Racial Contacts 231-326 

Legal Status of Negroes in Illinois 232 

Discrimination in Public Schools 234 

Contacts in Chicago PubUc Schools 238 

Physical Equipment of Schools 241 

Retardation in Elementary Schools 256 

Contacts in Recreation 271 

Contacts in Transportation 297 

Contacts in Other Relations 309 

"Black and Tan" Resorts 323 

Cultural Contacts 325 

Contacts in Co-operative Efforts for Race Betterment .... 326 

Chapter VII. Crime and Vicious Environment 327-356 

Criminal Statistics 328 

The Negro in the Courts 332 

Bureau of Identification 335 

Probation and Parole 335 

Institutional Inquiry ' 338 



Negro Crime and Environment 34i 

Views of Authorities on Crime among Negroes 345 

Chapter VIII. The Negro in Industry 357-435 

Employment Opportunities and Conditions 357 

Increase in Negro Labor since 1915 362 

Classification of Negro Workers 364 

Wages of Negro Workers 365 

Women Employees in Industrial Establishments .... 367 

Railroad Workers 3^9 

Domestic Workers 37° 

Employers' Experience with Negro Labor 372 

Negro Women in Industry 37^ 

Industries Excluding the Negro 39i 

Relations of White and Colored Workers 393 

Future of the Negro in Chicago Industries 400 

Organized Labor and the Negro Worker 403 

Policy of the American Federation of Labor and Other Federations 405 

Unions Admitting Negroes to White Locals 412 

Unions Admittmg Negroes to Separate Co-ordinate Locals . . 417 

Unions Excluding Negroes from Membership 420 

The Negro and Strikes 43° 

Attitude and Opinions of Labor Leaders 432 

Chapter IX. Public Opinion in Race Relations 436-519 

A. opinions or whites and negroes 

BeUefs Concerning Negroes 437 

Primary Beliefs 43^ 

Secondary Beliefs 443 

Background of Prevailing Beliefs Concerning Negroes .... 445 

Types of Sentiments and Attitudes 45 1 

The Emotional Background 45^ 

Abstract Justice 454 

Traditional Southern Background 45^ 

Group Sentiments 45^ 

Attitudes Determined by Contacts 457 

Self-Analysis by Fifteen White Citizens 459 

Public Opinion as Expressed by Negroes 475 

Race Problems 47^ 

Abyssinians 480 

A Negro and a Mob 481 

Defensive PoUcies 4^4 

Race Consciousness 487 

Opinions of Fifteen Negroes on Definite Racial Problems . . . 493 

Are Race Relations Improving ? 494 

Opinions on Solution 495 

Social Adjustments So 2 



Negro Problems 5°$ 

Defensive Philosophy 508 

Segregation and Racial Solidarity 509 

Opinion-making 514 

Chapter X. Pxjblic Opinion in Race Relations 520-594 


The Press 520 

General Survey of Chicago Newspapers 523 

Intensive Study of Chicago Newspapers 531 

Newspaper Pohcy Regarding Negro News 547 

The Negro Press 556 

Classification of Articles 557 

Negro Newspaper PoUcy 563 

Rimior 568 

Myths 577 

Propaganda 587 

Conclusions • . . .' . 594 

Chapter XI. Summary of the Report and Recommendations of the 

Commission 595-651 

The Chicago Riot 595 

The Migration of Negroes from the South 602 

The Negro Population of Chicago 605 

Racial Contacts 613 

Crime and Vicious Environment 621 

The Negro in Chicago Industries 623 

Pubhc Opinion in Race Relations 629 

Opinions of Whites and Negroes 629 

Factors in the Making of PubUc Opinion 634 

The Recommendations of the Commission 640 

Appendix 652 

Biographical Data of Members of the Commission 652 

The Stafif of the Commission 653 

Epitome of Facts in Riot Deaths 655 

Table Showing Number of Persons Injured in Chicago Riot by Date 

and by Race 667 

Index 669 



Whites and Negroes Leaving Twenty-ninth Street Beach . . . iii 

Crowds Armed with Bricks Searching for a Negro 12 

Whites Stoning Negro to Death 12 

The Arrival of the Police 12 

Scenes from Fire in Immigrant Neighborhood . . . . . 16, 22, 28 

Negroes Leaving Wrecked House est Riot Zone 16 

Wrecked House of a Negro Family in Riot Zone 28 

Negroes and Whites Leaving the Stock Yards 28 

Negroes Being Escorted to Safety Zone 34 

Searching Negroes for Arms in Police Station 34 

Negroes Buying Provisions Brought into Their Neighborhood . . 40 

The Militia and Negroes on Friendly Terms 4° 

Negro Stock Yards Workers Receiving Wages 44 

Buying Ice from Freight Car 44 

Milk Was Distributed for the Babies 48 

Provisions Supplied by the Red Cross 48 

Propaganda Literature Used by "Abyssinians" 60 

After the "Abyssinian Murders" 64 

Typical Plantation Homes in the South 80 

Negro Family Just Arrived in Chicago 92 

Negro Church in the South 92 

Raoal Contacts among Children 108 

A Savings Bank in the Negro Residence Area 112 

Children at Work in a Community Garden 112 

Damage Done by a Bomb 128 

A Negro Choral Society 136 

Olivet Baptist Church 140 

St. Mark's M.E. Church 140 

Trinity M.E, Church and Community House 146 

South Park M.E. Church 146 

Pilgrim Baptist Church 146 

The Chicago Urban League Building 150 

The South Side Community Service Building 150 

Homes Owned by Negroes on South Park Avenue 188 



An Abandoned Residence in the Prairie Avenue Block .... i88 

Homes Occupied and in Part Owned by Negroes 194 

Homes Occupied by Negroes on Forest Avenue 202 

Rear View of Houses Occupied by Negroes on Federal Street . . 202 

MosELEY School 242 

Farren School 248 

Wendell Phillips High School 252 

A Typical School Yard Playground in a White Neighborhood . .276 

Beutner Playground 280 

Field House Equipment at Beutner Playground 280 

Negro Athletic Team in City- Wide Meet 280 

Friendly Rivalry 280 

Armour Square Recreation Center 286 

Beutner Playground 286 

A Negro Amateur Baseball Team .292 

Negro Women and Girls Employed in a Lamp-Shade Factory . . . 378 

Negro Women Employed on Power Machines 380 

Negro Women and Girls in a Large Hat-making Concern .... 384 

Officers of the Railway Men's Benevolent Industrial Assoclation . 410 



The Chicago Riot ^ 

Distribution of Negro Population, 1910 106 

Distribution of Negro Population, 1920 "o 

Proportion of Negroes to Total Population, 1910 116 

Proportion of Negroes to Total Population, 1920 . . . . .120 

Homes Bombed ^24 

Negro Churches ^44 

Social Agencies ^48 

Homes of White and Negro Employees iS4 

Types of Negro Housing ^84 

A Changing Neighborhood 212 

Recreation Facilities 272 

Transportation Contacts, Morning 7:00 TO 9:00 300 

Transportation Contacts, Evening 4:00 TO 6:00 300 

Houses of Prostitution, 1916 342 

Houses of Prostitution, 1918 342 

Resorts 34^ 

Industrial Plants • • 360 


There is no domestic problem in America which has given thoughtful men 
more concern than the problem of the relations between the white and the 
Negro races. In earlier days the colonization of the Negro, as in Liberia, was 
put forward as a solution. That idea was abandoned long ago. It is now 
recognized generally that the two races are here in America to stay. 

It is also certain that the problem will not be solved by methods of violence. 
Every race riot, every instance in which men of either race defy legal authority 
and take the law into their own hands, but postpones the day when the two 
races shall live together amicably. The law must be maintained and enforced 
vigorously and completely before any real progress can be made towards 
better race relations. 

Means must be found, therefore, whereby the two races can live together 
on terms of amity. This will be possible only if the two races are brought to 
understand each other better. It is believed that such understanding will 
result in each having a higher degree of respect for the other, and that such 
respect will form the basis for greatly improved relations between the races. 

The Commission on Race Relations, composed of distinguished representa- 
tives of both races, has made the most thorough and complete survey of the 
race situation that I have seen anywhere. While its field of study was neces- 
sarily limited to Chicago, the conditions there may be regarded as fairly 
typical of conditions in other large cities where there is a large colored popu- 

The report does not pretend to have discovered any new formula by which 
all race trouble will disappear. The subject is too complex for any such simple 
solution. It finds certain facts, however, the mere recognition of which will 
go a long way towards allaying race feeling. It finds that in that portion of 
Chicago in which colored persons have lived longest and in the largest numbers 
relatively there has been the minimum of friction. This is a fact of the first 
importance. For it tends to show that the presence of Negroes in large 
numbers in our great cities is not a menace in itself. 


There is one recommendation (No. 31) to which I desire to call special 
attention: that a permanent local commission on race relations be created. 
• When as Governor of Illinois I withdrew troops from Chicago after the riots, 
I was not at all persuaded that all danger of their recurrence was past. I kept 
observers from the Adjutant General's office on the ground to watch for any 
signs of fresh trouble. The Commission on Race Relations was appointed, 
and conditions at once began to improve. The activities of this Commission, 
composed of the best representatives of both races, were, as I believe, the 
principal cause for this improved condition. 

Causes of friction, insignificant in themselves, but capable of leading to 
serious results, were discovered by the Commission and by its suggestion were 
removed in time to avoid grave consequences. Gross exaggerations of some 
fancied grievance by either the one race or the other were examined into and 
were foimd to rest upon nothing else than idle rumor or prejudice. In the light 
of truth which the Commission was able to throw upon the subject, these griev- 
ances disappeared. In other words, misunderstanding, which had been so 
prolific a source of trouble between the races, was greatly reduced. 

The report contains recommendations, which, if acted upon, will make 
impossible, in my opinion, a repetition of the appalling tragedy which brought 
disgrace to Chicago in July of 191 9. 

Men may differ as to some of the conclusions reached, but all fair-minded 
men must admit, I think, that the report of the Commission on Race Relations 
is a most important contribution to this important subject. 

Frank O. Lowden 


On Sunday, July 27, 19 19, there was a clash of white people and Negroes 
at a bathing-beach in Chicago, which resulted in the drowning of a Negro boy. 
This led to a race riot in which thirty-eight lives were lost — twenty-three 
Negroes and fifteen whites — and 537 persons were injured. After three days 
of mob violence, affecting several sections of the city, the state militia was 
called out to assist the police in restoring order. It was not until August 6 
that danger of further clashes was regarded as past. 

To discuss this serious situation and means of preventing its recurrence, 
a group of eighty-one citizens, representing forty-eight social, civic, com- 
mercial, and professional organizations of Chicago, met on August i, 1919, 
at the Union League Club. Mr. Charles W. Folds, president of the Club, 
presided. Brief addresses were made by Mr. H. H. Merrick, president of the 
Chicago Association of Commerce, Dr. Graham Taylor, Miss Harriet Vittum, 
Major John S. Bonner, Mr. Charles J. Boyd, and Rev. William C. Covert. 

Resolutions were passed and given to the press, and the following letter 
to the Governor of Illinois was authorized : 
To His Excellency, Frank 0. Lowden 
Governor of Illinois 

Dear Sir: A meeting was held today at the Union League Club to take up the 
matter of the present race riots. 

This meeting was attended by 81 representatives of 48 prominent civic, profes- 
sional and commercial organizations, such as Chicago Medical Association, Chicago 
Bar Association, Federation of Churches, Association of Commerce, Packing House 
Industries, Urban League, Woman's City Club, Chicago Woman's Club, Foreign 
Language Division, representing foreign-born population, etc. 

A resolution was adopted unanimously, appointing the undersigned as a com- 
mittee to wait upon you and ask that you appoint at your earliest convenience an 
emergency state committee to study the psychological, social and economic causes 
underlying the conditions resulting in the present race riot and to make such recom- 
mendations as will tend to prevent a recurrence of such conditions in the future. 

The committee would welcome an opportunity to meet you at any time convenient 
to yourself and to talk over with you details and give you such information as has 
been gathered through these various organizations. 


Charles W. Folds 
Graham Taylor 
William C. Graves 
Harriet E. Vittum 
T. Arnold Hill 
Felix J. Streyckmans 


In response to this and other urgent requests by various citizens and 
organizations, and pursuant to his personal knowledge of the situation derived 
from investigations made by him in Chicago during the period of the riot, 
Governor Lowden announced on August 20, 1919, the appointment of a 
Commission on Race Relations, consisting of twelve members, six from each 
race, as follows — Mr. Bancroft being designated by him as chairman: 

Representing the white people: Edgar A. Bancroft, William Scott Bond, 
Edward Osgood Brown, Harry Eugene Kelly, Victor F. Lawson, Julius Rosen- 

Representing the Negro people: Robert S. Abbott, George Cleveland 
Hall, George H. Jackson, Edward H. Morris, Adelbert H, Roberts, Lacey 
Kirk Williams.' 

In announcing the appointment of this Commission, Governor Lowden 
made public the following statement: 

I have been requested by many citizens and by many civic organizations in 
Chicago to appoint a Commission to study and report upon the broad question of 
the relations between the two races. These riots were the work of the worst element 
of both races. They did not represent the great overwhelming majority of either race. 
The two are here and will remain here. The great majority of each realizes the 
necessity of their living upon terms of cordial good wUl and respect, each for the other. 
That condition must be brought about. 

To say that we cannot solve this problem is to confess the failure of self- 
government. I offer no solution of the problem. I do know, however, that the 
question cannot be answered by mob violence. I do know that every time men, 
white or colored, take the law into their own hands, instead of helping they only 
postpone the settlement of the question. When we admit the existence of a problem 
and courageously face it, we have gone half-way toward its solution. 

I have with the utmost care, in response to the requests above set forth, appointed 
a Commission to undertake this great work. I have sought only the most represent- 
ative men of the two races. I have not even asked them whether they had views as 
to how the question could be met. I have asked them only to approach the difficult 
subject with an open mind, and in a spirit of fairness and justice to all. This is a 
tribunal that has been constituted to get the facts and interpret them and to find a 
way out. I believe that great good can come out of the work of this Commission. 

I ask that our people, white and colored, give their fullest co-operation to the 
Commission. I ask, too, as I have a right to ask, that both races exercise that 
patience and self-restraint which are indispensable to self-government while we are 
working out this problem. 

During an absence of the chairman, due to ill health. Governor Lowden 
requested Dr. Francis W. Shepardson, director of the State Department of 
Registration and Education, to serve as acting chairman. On Mr. Ban- 
croft's return and at the Commission's request, the Governor appointed 
Dr. Shepardson a member and vice-chairman of the Commission. 

* For biographical data see p. 652. 


The Commission's first meeting was held on October 9, 1919. Nine other 
meetings were held during the remainder of that year to canvass the possible 
fields of inquiry, and to provide for the organization of studies and investiga- 

The Commission was seriously handicapped at the outset by a complete 
lack of funds. The legislative session of 19 19 had ended before the riot, and 
the next regular session was not to convene until January, 192 1. The Com- 
mission felt that it could not with propriety seek to raise funds on its own 
appeal. To meet this situation a group of citizens offered to serve as a 
co-operating committee to finance the Commission's inquiry and the prepara- 
tion and publication of its report. This Committee, consisting of Messrs. 
James B. Forgan, chairman, Abel Davis, treasurer, Arthur Meeker, John J. 
Mitchell, and John G. Shedd, gave effective aid, being most actively assisted 
by Messrs. R. B. Beach and John F. Bowman, of the staff of the Chicago 
Association of Commerce. Without the co-operation of these gentlemen and 
the resulting financial assistance of many generous contributors the Com- 
mission could not have carried on its work. It here expresses its most grateful 

The Commission organized its staff, inviting Mr. Graham Romeyn Taylor, 
as executive secretary, and Mr. Charles S. Johnson, as associate executive 
secretary, to assume charge of the inquiries and investigations under its 
direction. They began their work on December 7, 1919. 

While the Commission recognized the importance of studying the facts 
of the riot, it felt that even greater emphasis should be placed on the study 
and interpretation of the conditions of Negro life in Chicago and of the relations 
between the two races. Therefore, after a brief survey of the data already 
collected and of the broad field for its inquiries, it organized into six com- 
mittees, as follows: Committee on Racial Clashes, Committee on Housing, 
Committee on Industry, Committee on Crime, Committee on Racial Contacts, 
Committee on Public Opinion. 

Along all these lines of inquiry information was sought in two general ways: 
through a series of conferences or informal hearings, and through research 
and field work carried on by a staff of trained investigators, white and Negro. 
Thus both races were represented in the membership of the Commission, 
in its executive secretaries, and in the field and office staff organized by the 
executive secretaries. 

It is not without significance that in securing office quarters the Com- 
mission found several agents of buildings who declined to make a lease when 
they learned that Negroes as well as whites were among the prospective 
tenants. They stated their objections as based, not upon their own preju- 
dices, but upon the fear that other tenants would resent the presence of Negroes. 
Office space at 118 North La Salle Street was leased to the Commission by the 
L. J. McCormick estate, beginning February i, 1920. When these offices 


were vacated, May i, 192 1, the agents of the estate informed the Commission 
that no tenant of the building had complained of the presence of Negroes. 

By IMarch i, 1920, the staff of investigators had been organized and was 
at work. The personnel was recruited as far as possible from social workers 
of both races whose training and experience had fitted them for intelligent 
and sympathetic handUng of research and field work along the Hnes mapped 
out by the Commission.' 

The period of investigations and conferences or informal hearings lasted 
until November, 1920. The work of compiling material and writing the 
various sections of the report had begun in October, 1920. Including its 
business meetings and thirty conferences the Commission held more than 
seventy-five meetings; forty of these were devoted to the consideration of 
the text of the report. 

The executive secretaries with their staff collected the materials during 
1920, and soon after presented the first draft of a report. This was considered 
and discussed by the Commission in numerous sessions, and the general out- 
lines of the report were decided upon. Then a second draft, in accordance 
with its directions, was prepared by subjects, and a copy was submitted to 
each member of the Commission for suggestions and criticisms. Afterward 
the Commission met and discussed the questions raised by the different 
members, and determined upon the changes to be made in substance and form. 
After the entire report had been thus revised, the Commission in many con- 
ferences decided what recommendations to make. These recommendations, 
with a summary of the report, were then prepared, and were reviewed by the 
Commission after they had been sent to each member. After full consideration 
they were further revised and then adopted by the Commission. In all these 
conferences upon the report, all of the Commissioners, with one exception, 
conferred frequently and agreed unanunously. Mr. Morris, on account of 
his duties as a member of the Constitutional Convention, did not attend any 
of these conferences upon the report, summary, or recommendations, and 
does not concur in them. 

The Commission received the cordial assistance of many agencies, organiza- 
tions, and individuals. The Chicago Urban League placed at its disposal a 
large amount of material from its files. It also gave a leave of absence to 
the head of its Department of Research and Investigation, Mr. Charles S. 
Johnson, the Commission's associate executive secretary. Many citizens, 
representing widely divergent lines of interest, who were invited to attend 
conferences held by the Commission, gave most generously of their time and 
knowledge. The L. J. McCormick estate donated three months' office rent. 
Messrs. George C. Nimmons & Company, architects, contributed valuable 
services, including study and supervision by Frederick Jehnck of their office, 

' The members of this staff, with the previous training and experience of each, are 
listed in the Appendix, p. 653. 


in preparing maps and charts designed to present most effectively data collected 
by the Commission. The Federal Bureau of the Census made available 
advanced data from the 1920-21 censuses. Superintendent Peter A, Morten- 
sen and many principals and teachers in the Chicago public schools co-operated 
in the extensive studies of race relations in the schools; and the Committee of 
Fifteen provided a report showing important facts in the study of environment 
and crime. The various park boards, many municipal, county, and state 
officials, superintendents and others connected with industrial plants, trades- 
union officers, and leaders in many civic and social agencies greatly facilitated 
investigations in their respective fields. To all these the Commission returns 
sincere thanks. But, perhaps, the greatest debt of gratitude is due Mr. 
Ernest S. Simpson, who generously and devotedly gave his spare time for 
many months to the editing of this report. 

The Commission's letter to Governor Lowden summarizing its work, and 
his answer follow: 

January i, 1921 

Honorable Frank 0. Lowden 
Governor of Illinois 

Sir: Following the race riot in Chicago in July and August, 1919, in which 
fifteen white people and twenty-three Negroes were killed and very many of both 
races were injured, you appointed us as a Commission on Race Relations "to study 
and report upon the broad question of the relations between the two races." We 
have completed the investigations planned as a basis for this study, and are now 
preparing a final report of our findings, conclusions and recommendations. This 
report will soon be ready. 

The Commission began its work in October, 191 9, and for eleven months has 
had a staff of investigators assisting it in its activities. While devoting much effort 
to the study of the Chicago riot as presenting many phases of the race problem, the 
Commission has placed greater emphasis upon the study of the conditions of life of 
the Negro group in this community, and of the broad questions of race relations. 
It therefore organized itself into six committees on the following subjects: Racial 
Clashes, Housing, Industry, Crime, Racial Contacts, and Public Opinion. 

In these fields the Commission's work has been done along two main lines: 

(o) a series of conferences, at which persons believed to have special information 
and experience relating to these subjects have been invited to give the Commission 
the benefit of their knowledge and opinions; 

ih) research and field work by a trained staff of investigators, both white and 
Negro, to determine as accurately as possible, from first-hand evidence, the actual 
conditions in the above fields. 

The series of conferences, numbering thirty, covered a wide range of topics, such 
as: the race riot of 1919 as viewed by the police, the militia, the grand jury, and state's 
attorney; race friction and its remedies; contacts of whites and Negroes in public 
schools and recreation places; special educational problems of Negro children; Negro 
housing, its needs, type, and financing, and its difficulties in mixed areas; Negro 


labor in relation to employers, fellow- workers, and trade unions; Negro women in 
industry; the Negro and social agencies; Negro health; Negroes and whites in the 
courts and in correctional institutions; and the Negro and white press in relation to 
public opinion on race relations. 

Of two hundred and sixty-three persons invited, one hundred and seventy-five 
attended these conferences and presented their information and views. They 
represented both races and various groups and viewpoints; they included educators 
and teachers, real estate men, bankers, managers of industrial plants, housing experts, 
trades-union leaders, social workers, physicians, park and playground directors, 
judges, clergymen, superintendents of correctional and other institutions, police, 
militia, and other public officials, and newspaper editors. 

The research and field work done by the staff of investigators covered in general 
the same broad range. The character is indicated by a bare outline of the work in 
the six main fields: 

Racial Clashes: 19 19 Chicago riot, seventeen antecedent clashes; three minor 
clashes in 1920; brief comparative study of Sprmgfield riot in 1908 and East St. 
Louis riot in 191 7. 

Racial Contacts: In schools, transportation lines, parks, and other recreation 
places; contacts in mixed neighborhoods; adjustment of southern Negro families 
coming to Chicago; survey of Negro agencies and institutions. 

Housing: Negro areas in Chicago and their expansion 1910-1920; 274 family 
histories showing housing experience, home life, and social back-ground, including 
families from the South; 159 blocks covered in neighborhood survey; financing 
Negro housing; depreciation in and near Negro areas; 52 house bombings, 1917-1920. 

Industry: Data covering 22,448 Negroes in 192 plants; loi plants visited; 
quality of Negro labor; the widening opportunities and chance for promotion studied ; 
special study of trades unions and the Negro worker. 

Crime: Police statistics of arrests and convictions of Negroes and selected 
nationalities compared and analyzed for sk years'; also juvenile court cases; 698 
cases (one month) in three police courts studied, including detailed social data on 
Negro cases; also 249 sex cases (two years) in criminal court; record of eleven penal 
institutions; environmental survey of Negro areas. 

Public Opinion: Files of white and Negro newspapers studied to analyze handling 
of matters relating to race relations; study of rumor and its effects, and of racial 
propaganda of white and Negro organizations. 

We believe that the large volume of information collected wUl prove, when 
properly set forth, of great value not only in Chicago but in other communities 
where public-spirited citizens are endeavormg to establish right relations between 
the two races. This end can be attained only through a more mtelligent appreciation 
by both races of the gravity of the problem, and by their earnest efforts toward a 
better mutual understanding and a more sympathetic co-operation. 

Hoping that our appreciation of the trust you have reposed in us may appear 
in some measure in the aid our report may give toward working out better race 
relations, we are, Very respectfully yours, 

(Signed by members of the Commission and its Executive Secretaries) 

» In the final revision of the report, the Commission decided that the police statistics 
were, as a rule, too imreliable to be made a basis of conclusions. 


State of Illinois 

Office of the Governor 


January 3, 1921 
My dear Mr. Bancroft: 

I have received and read with great interest your letter of January ist trans- 
mitting to me a detailed statement of the work of the Chicago Commission on Race 
Relations appointed by me after the race riot in Chicago in 1919, which is signed by 
yourself as chairman and by the other members of the Commission. 

I am greatly pleased to know that the Commission has been able to accompHsh 
so much through its investigations and that there has been such hearty co-operation 
on the part of many citizens to make the inquiry in this important field as valuable 
as possible. 

I shall look forward with more than ordinary interest to the appearance of the 
completed report in printed form. I suggest that the Commission arrange for its 
publication as soon as possible in order that your findings and recommendations 
may be made available to all students of race relations in our country. 

I desire to express to you and through you to the members of the Commission 
my great appreciation of the service which you have rendered to the people of Chicago 
and of Illinois in connection with the Commission. I have been advised from time 
to time of your continuing interest, your fidelity in attendance upon the meetings of 
the Commission, and your earnest desire to render as accurate a judgment as possible. 

Yours very sincerely, 

(Signed) Frank O. Lowden 
Hon. Edgar A. Bancroft 

Chairman, Chicago Commission on Race Relations 

In accordance with Governor Lowden's suggestion the Commission here- 
with presents its report, with findings and recommendations, hoping that it 
may prove of service in the efforts to bring about better relations between the 
white and Negro races. 


The relation of whites and Negroes in the United States is our most grave 
and perplexing domestic problem. It involves not only a difference of race — • 
which as to many immigrant races has been happily overcome — but wider 
and more manifest differences in color and physical features. These make 
an easy and natural basis for distinctions, discriminations, and antipathies 
arising from the instinct of each race to preserve its type. Many white 
Americans, while technically recognizing Negroes as citizens, cannot bring 
themselves to feel that they should participate in government as freely as 
other citizens. 

Countless schemes have been proposed for solving or dismissing this 
problem, most of them impracticable or impossible. Of this class are such 
proposals as: (i) the deportation of 12,000,000 Negroes to Africa; (2) the 
estabUshment of a separate Negro state in the United States; (3) complete 
separation and segregation from the whites and the establishment of a caste 
system or peasant class; and (4) hope for a solution through the dying out 
of the Negro race. The only effect of such proposals is to confuse thinking 
on the vital issues involved and to foster impatience and intolerance. 

Our race problem must be solved in harmony with the fundamental law 
of the nation and with its free institutions. These prevent any deportation 
of the Negro, as well as any restriction of his freedom of movement within 
the United States. The problem must not be regarded as sectional or political, 
and it should be studied and discussed seriously, frankly, and with an open mind. 

It is important for our white citizens always to remember that the Negroes 
alone of all our immigrants came to America against their will by the special 
compelhng invitation of the whites; that the institution of slavery was intro- 
duced, expanded, and maintained in the United States by the white people 
and for their own benefit; and that they likewise created the conditions that 
followed emancipation. 

Our Negro problem, therefore, is not of the Negro's making. No group 
in our population is less responsible for its existence. But every group is 
responsible for its continuance; and every citizen, regardless of color or racial 
origin, is in honor and conscience bound to seek and forward its solution. 

Centuries of the Negro slave trade and of slavery as an institution have 
created, and are often deemed to justify, the deep-seated prejudice against 
Negroes. They placed a stamp upon the relations of the two races which it 
will require many years to erase. The memory of these relations has pro- 
foundly affected and still affects the industrial, commercial, and social Hfe 
of the southern states. 


and racial contacts. The Commission's inquiry concerning the facts of the 
riot included a critical analysis of the 5,584 pages of the testimony taken by 
the coroner's jury; a study of the records of the office of the state's attorney; 
studies of the records of the Police Department, hospitals, and other institutions 
with reference to injuries, and of the records of the Fire Department with 
reference to incendiary fires; and interviews with many public officials and 
citizens having special knowledge of various phases of the riot. Much informa- 
tion was also gained by the Commission in a series of four conferences to which 
it invited the foreman of the riot grand jury, the chief and other commanding 
officers of the Police Department, the state's attorney and some of his assistants, 
and officers in command of the state militia during the riot. 

Background of the riot. — The Chicago riot was not the only serious outbreak 
of interracial violence in the year following the war. The same summer 
witnessed the riot in Washington, about a week earlier; the riot in Omaha, 
about a month later; and then the week of armed conflict in a rural district 
of Arkansas due to exploitation of Negro cotton producers. 

Nor was the Chicago riot the first violent manifestation of race antagonism 
in Illinois. In 1908 Springfield had been the scene of an outbreak that brought 
shame to the community which boasted of having been Lincoln's home. In 
191 7 East St. Louis was torn by a bitter and destructive riot which raged 
for nearly a week, and was the subject of a Congressional investigation that 
disclosed appalling underlying conditions. 

This Commission, while making a thorough study of the Chicago riot, 
has reviewed briefly, for comparative purposes, the essential facts of the 
Springfield and East St. Louis riots, and of minor clashes in Chicago occurring 
both before and after the riot of 1919. 

Chicago was one of the northern cities most largely affected by the migra- 
tion of Negroes from the South during the war. The Negro population 
increased from 44,103 in 1910 to 109,594 in 1920, an increase of 148 per cent. 
Most of this increase came in the years 1916-19. It was principally caused 
by the widening of industrial opportunities due to the entrance of northern 
workers into the army and to the demand for war workers at much higher 
wages than Negroes had been able to earn in the South. An added factor was 
the feehng, which spread like a contagion through the South, that the great 
opportunity had come to escape from what they felt to be a land of discrimina- 
tion and subserviency to places where they could expect fair treatment and 
equal rights. Chicago became to the southern Negro the "top of the world." 

The effect of this influx of Negroes into Chicago industries is reviewed in 
another section of this report.' It is necessary to point out here only that fric- 
tion in industry was less than might have been expected. There had been a 
few strikes which had given the Negro the name of "strike breaker." But 
the demand for labor was such that there were plenty of jobs to absorb all the 

' Pages infra. 


white and Negro workers available. This condition continued even after 
the end of the war and demobilization. 

In housing, however, there was a different story. Practically no new 
building had been done in the city during the war, and it was a physical impos- 
sibiUty for a doubled Negro population to live in the space occupied in 1915. 
Negroes spread out of what had been known as the" Black Belt" into neighbor- 
hoods near-by which had been exclusively white. This movement, as described 
in another section of this report, developed friction, so much so that in the 
"invaded" neighborhoods bombs were thrown at the houses of Negroes who 
had moved in, and of real estate men, white and Negro, who sold or rented 
property to the newcomers. From July i, 1917, to July 27, 1919, the day 
the riot began, twenty-four such bombs had been thrown. The poUce had 
been entirely unsuccessful in finding those guilty, and were accused of making 
Uttle effort to do so. 

A third phase of the situation was the increased political strength gained 
by Mayor Thompson's faction in the Republican party. Negro poHticians 
affihated with this faction had been able to sway to its support a large propor- 
tion of the voters in the ward most largely inhabited by Negroes. Negro 
aldermen elected from this ward were prominent in the activities of this 
faction. The part played by the Negro vote in the hard-fought partisan 
struggle is indicated by the fact that in the Republican primary election on 
February 25, 1919, Mayor Thompson received in this ward 12,143 votes, 
while his two opponents, Olson and Merriam, received only 1,492 and 319 
respectively. Mayor Thompson was re-elected on April i, 1919, by a plurality 
of 21,622 in a total vote in the city of 698,920; his vote in this ward was 
15,569, to his nearest opponent's 3,323, and was therefore large enough to control 
the election. The bitterness of this factional struggle aroused resentment 
against the race that had so conspicuously aUied itself with the Thompson side. 

As part of the background of the Chicago riot, the activities of gangs of 
hoodlums should be cited. There had been friction for years, especially along 
the western boundary of the area in which the Negroes mainly live, and 
attacks upon Negroes by gangs of young toughs had been particularly frequent 
in the spring just preceding the riot. They reached a climax on the night of 
June 21, 1919, five weeks before the riot, when two Negroes were murdered. 
Each was alone at the time and was the victim of unprovoked and particularly 
brutal attack. Molestation of Negroes by hoodlums had been prevalent in 
the vicinity of parks and playgrounds and at bathing-beaches. 

On two occasions shortly before the riot the forewarnings of serious 
racial trouble had been so pronounced that the chief of police sent several 
hundred extra policemen into the territory where trouble seemed imminent. 
But serious violence did not break out until Sunday afternoon, July 27, when 
the clash on the lake shore at Twenty-ninth Street resulted in the drowning 
of a Negro boy. 


The beginning of the riot. — Events followed so fast in the train of the drown- 
ing that this tragedy may be considered as marking the beginning of the riot. 

It was four o'clock Sunday afternoon, July 27, when Eugene WiUiams, 
seventeen-year-old Negro boy, was swimming offshore at the foot of Twenty- 
ninth Street. This beach was not one of those pubhcly maintained and 
supervised for bathing, but it was much used. Although it flanks an area 
thickly inhabited by Negroes, it was used by both races, access being had by 
crossing the railway tracks which skirt the lake shore. The part near Twenty- 
seventh Street had by tacit understanding come to be considered as reserved 
for Negroes, while the whites used the part near Twenty-ninth Street. Walking 
is not easy along the shore, and each race had kept pretty much to its 
own part, observing, moreover, an imaginary boundary extending into the 

Williams, who had entered the water at the part used by Negroes, swam 
and drifted south into the part used by the whites. Immediately before his 
appearance there, white men, women, and children had been bathing in the 
vicinity and were on the beach in considerable numbers. Four Negroes 
walked through the group and into the water. White men simimarily ordered 
them off. The Negroes left, and the white people resumed their sport. But 
it was not long before the Negroes were back, coming from the north with 
others of their race. Then began a series of attacks and retreats, counter- 
attacks, and stone-throwing. Women and children who could not escape 
hid behind debris and rocks. The stone-throwing continued, first one side 
gaining the advantage, then the other. 

Williams, who had remained in the water during the fracas, found a 
railroad tie and clung to it, stones meanwhile frequently striking the water 
near him. A white boy of about the same age swam toward him. As the white 
boy neared, Williams let go of the tie, took a few strokes, and went down. 
The coroner's jury rendered a verdict that he had drowned because fear of 
stone-throwing kept him from shore. His body showed no stone bruises, 
but rumor had it that he had actually been hit by one of the stones and 
drowned as a result. 

On shore guilt was immediately placed upon a certain white man by 
several Negro witnesses who demanded that he be arrested by a white policeman 
who was on the spot. No arrest was made. 

The tragedy was sensed by the battUng crowd and, awed by it, they 
gathered on the beach. For an hour both whites and Negroes dived for the 
boy without results. Awe gave way to excited whispers. "They" said he 
was stoned to death. The report circulated through the crowd that the 
pohce officer had refused to arrest the murderer. The Negroes in the crowd 
began to mass dangerously. At this crucial point the accused policeman 
arrested a Negro on a white man's complaint. Negroes mobbed the white 
officer, and the riot was under way. 


One version of the quarrel which resulted in the drowning of Williams was 
given by the state's attorney, who declared that it arose among white and 
Negro gamblers over a craps game on the shore, "virtually under the protection 
of the police officer on the beat." Eyewitnesses to the stone- throwing clash 
appearing before the coroner's jury saw no gambUng, but said it might have 
been going on, but if so, was not visible from the water's edge. The crowd 
undoubtedly included, as the grand jury declared, "hoodlums, gamblers, and 
thugs," but it also included law-abiding citizens, white and Negro. 

This charge, that the first riot clash started among gamblers who were 
under the protection of the poUce officer, and also the charge that the police- 
man refused to arrest the stone-thrower were vigorously denied by the police. 
The policeman's star was taken from him, but after a hearing before the 
Civil Service Commission it was returned, thus officially vindicating him. 

The two facts, the drowning and the refusal to arrest, or widely circulated 
reports of such refusal, must be considered together as marking the inception 
of the riot. Testimony of a captain of poHce shows that first reports from the 
lake after the drowning indicated that the situation was calming down. White 
men had shown a not altogether hostile feehng for the Negroes by assisting 
in diving for the body of the boy. Furthermore a clash started on this isolated 
spot could not be augmented by outsiders rushing in. There was every possi- 
bihty that the clash, without the further stimulus of reports of the policeman's 
conduct, would have quieted down. 

Chronological story of the riot. — After the drowning of Williams, it was 
two hours before any further fatalities occurred. Reports of the drowning 
and of the alleged conduct of the policeman spread out into the neighborhood. 
The Negro crowd from the beach gathered at the foot of Twenty-ninth Street. 
As it became more and more excited, a group of ofiicers was called by the 
policeman who had been at the beach. James Crawford, a Negro, fired into 
the group of ofiicers and was himself shot and killed by a Negro poHceman 
who had been sent to help restore order. 

During the remainder of the afternoon of July 27, many distorted rumors 
circulated swiftly throughout the South Side. The Negro crowd from Twenty- 
ninth Street got into action, and white men who came in contact with it were 
beaten. In all, four white men were beaten, five were stabbed, and one was 
shot. As the rumors spread, new crowds gathered, mobs sprang into activity 
spontaneously, and gangs began to take part in the lawlessness. 

Farther to the west, as darkness came on, white gangsters became active. 
Negroes in white districts suffered severely at their hands. From 9:00 p.m. 
until 3 : 00 A.M. twenty-seven Negroes were beaten, seven were stabbed, and 
four were shot. 

Few clashes occurred on Monday morning. People of both races went 
to work as usual and even continued to work side by side, as customary, 
without signs of violence. But as the afternoon wore on, white men and 


boys living between the Stock Yards and the "Black Belt" sought malicious 
amusement in directing mob violence against Negro workers returning home. 

Street-car routes, especially transfer points, were thronged with white 
people of all ages. Trolleys were pulled from wires and the cars brought 
under the control of mob leaders. Negro passengers were dragged to the 
street, beaten, and kicked. The police were apparently powerless to cope 
with these numerous assaults. Four Negro men and one white assailant 
were killed, and thirty Negro men were severely beaten in the street-car 

The " Black Belt" contributed its share of violence to the record of Monday 
afternoon and night. Rumors of white depredations and killings were current 
among the Negroes and led to acts of retaUation. An aged Italian peddler, 
one Lazzeroni, was set upon by young Negro boys and stabbed to death. 
Eugene Temple, white laundryman, was stabbed to death and robbed by three 

A Negro mob made a demonstration outside Provident Hospital, an institu- 
tion conducted by Negroes, because two injured whites who had been shooting 
right and left from a hurrying automobile on State Street were taken there. 
Other mobs stabbed six white men, shot five others, severely beat nine more, 
and killed two in addition to those named above. 

Rumor had it that a white occupant of the Angelus apartment house had 
shot a Negro boy from a fourth-story window. Negroes besieged the building. 
The white tenants sought poHce protection, and about loo poUcemen, including 
some mounted men, responded. The mob of about 1,500 Negroes demanded 
the "culprit," but the police failed to find him after a search of the building. 
A flying brick hit a policeman. There was a quick massing of the police, and 
a volley was fired into the Negro mob. Four Negroes were killed and many 
were injured. It is believed that had the Negroes not lost faith in the white 
police force it is hardly likely that the Angelus riot would have occurred. 

At this point, Monday night, both whites and Negroes showed signs of 
panic. Each race grouped by itself. Small mobs began systematically in 
various neighborhoods to terrorize and kiU. Gangs in the white districts 
grew bolder, finally taking the offensive in raids through territory "invaded" 
by Negro home seekers. Boys between sixteen and twenty-two banded 
together to enjoy the excitement of the chase. 

Automobile raids were added to the rioting Monday night. Cars from 
which rifle and revolver shots were fired were driven at great speed through 
sections inhabited by Negroes. Negroes defended themselves by "sniping" 
and volley-firing from ambush and barricade. So great was the fear of these 
raiding parties that the Negroes distrusted all motor vehicles and frequently 
opened fire on them without waiting to learn the intent of the occupants. 
This type of warfare was kept up spasmodically all Tuesday and was resumed 
with vigor Tuesday night. 


At midnight, Monday, street-car clashes ended by reason of a general 
strike on the surface and elevated lines. The street-railway tie-up was com- 
plete for the remainder of the week. But on Tuesday morning this was a 
new source of terror for those who tried to walk to their places of employment. 
Men were killed en route to their work through hostile territory. Idle men con- 
gregated on the streets, and gang-rioting increased. A white gang of soldiers 
and sailors in uniform, augmented by civilians, raided the "Loop," or down- 
town section of Chicago, early Tuesday, killing two Negroes and beating 
and robbing several others. In the course of these activities they wantonly 
destroyed property of white business men. 

Gangs sprang up as far south as Sixty-third Street in Englewood and in 
the section west of Wentworth Avenue near Forty-seventh Street. Premedi- 
tated depredations were the order of the night. Many Negro homes in mixed 
districts were attacked, and several of them were burned. Furniture was 
stolen or destroyed. When raiders were driven off they would return again 
and again until their designs were accompUshed. 

The contagion of the race war broke over the boundaries of the South 
Side and spread to the Italians on the West Side. This community became 
excited over a rumor, and an ItaUan crowd killed a Negro, Joseph Lovings. 

Wednesday saw a material lessening of crime and violence. The ''Black 
Belt" and the district immediately west of it were still storm centers. But 
the peak of the rioting had apparently passed, although the danger of fresh 
outbreaks of magnitude was still imminent. Although companies of the 
militia had been mobilized in nearby armories as early as Monday night, 
July 28, it was not until Wednesday evening at 10:30 that the mayor yielded 
to pressure and asked for their help. 

Rain on Wednesday night and Thursday drove idle people of both races 
into their homes. The temperature fell, and with it the white heat of the 
riot. From this time on the violence was sporadic, scattered, and meager. 
The riot seemed well under control, if not actually ended. 

Friday witnessed only a single reported injury. At 3:35 a.m. Saturday 
incendiary fires burned forty-nine houses in the immigrant neighborhood 
west of the Stock Yards. Nine hundred and forty-eight people, mostly 
Lithuanians, were made homeless, and the property loss was about $250,000. 
ResponsibiHty for these fires was never fixed. The riot virtually ceased on 
Saturday. For the next few days injured were reported occasionally, and by 
August 8 the riot zone had settled down to normal and the miUtia was with- 

Growth of the riot. — The riot period was thirteen days in length, from 
Sunday, July 27, through Thursday, August 8, the day on which the troops 
were withdrawn. Of this time, only the first seven days witnessed active 
rioting. The remaining days marked the return toward normal. In the seven 
active days, rioting was not continuous but intermittent, being furious for 


hours, then fairly quiescent for hours. The first three days saw the most 
acute disturbance, and in this span there were three main periods: 4:00 p.m. 
Sunday till 3:00 a.m. Monday; 9:00 a.m. Monday till 9:00 a.m. Tuesday; 
noon Tuesday till midnight. This left two long intervals of comparative 
quiet, six hours on Monday and three hours on Tuesday. On the fourth day, 
Wednesday, there were scattered periods of rioting, each of a few hours' 
duration. Thus Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning was the longest 
stretch of active rioting in the first four days. 

For the most part the riot was confined to the South Side of the city. 
There were two notable exceptions, the district north and west of the south 
branch of the Chicago River and the "Loop" or downtown business district. 
A few isolated clashes occurred on the North Side and on the extreme West 
SideJ'but aside from these the area covered was that shown on the accompanying 
outline map. , 

For the purposes of discussion^t is convenient to divide the riot area into 
seven districts. The boundaries in some instances are due to the designation 
of Wentworth Avenue by the police as a boimdary west of which no Negroes 
should be allowed, and east of which no whites should be allowed. 

I. "Black Belt." From Twenty-second to Thirty-ninth, inclusive; Went- 

worth Avenue to the lake, exclusive of Wentworth; Thirty-ninth to 
Fifty-fifth, inclusive; Clark to Michigan, exclusive of Michigan. 

II. Area contested by both Negroes and whites. Thirty-ninth to Fifty-fifth, 
inclusive; Michigan to the lake. 

III. Southwest Side, including the Stock Yards district; south of the Chicago 
River to Fifty-fifth; west of Wentworth, including Wentworth. 

IV. Area south of Fifty-fifth and east of Wentworth. 
V. Area south of Fifty-fifth and west of Wentworth. 

VI. Area north and west of the Chicago River. 
VII. "Loop" or business district and vicinity. 

In the district designated as the "Black Belt" about 90 per cent of the 
Negroes live. District II, the "contested area," is that in which most of the 
bombings have occurred. Negroes are said to be "invading" this district. 
Extension here instead of into District III, toward the Stock Yards neighbor- 
hood, may be explained partly by the hostihty which the Irish and PoUsh 
groups to the west had often shown to Negroes. The white hoodlum element 
of the Stock Yards district, designated as III, was characterized by the state's 
attorney of Cook County, when he remarked that more bank robbers, pay-roll 
bandits, automobile bandits, highwaymen, and strong-arm crooks come from 
this particular district than from any other that has come to his notice during 
seven years of service as chief prosecuting official.' 

In District IV and V, south of Fifty-fifth Street, Negroes five in small 
communities surrounded by white people or are scattered through white 

' Carl Sandburg, The Chicago Race Riots, chap, i, p. i. Harcourt, Brace & Howe. 


' THE 


,•• -^ 


27 TO 













Z I 






* ' ^ -ML ^' 


finnnnnnmrFR R^nnnnrRi]Qi^iii^nii'-iii n mnrrminm^^j i' 


neighborhoods. District VI has a large Italian population. District VII is 
Chica<^o's wholesale and retail center. , , • .i, „ ^ 

On only one day of the riot were all these districts mvolved » the race 
wariare ThU was Tuesday. On Sunday Districts I, III, and IV suSered 
Tshe" on Monday all but District VI were involved; on Tuesday the enUre 
Lea w^s affected; on Wednesday District VII was not included, and D strict 
VI witnessed onty one clash; on Thursday District IV was agam norma and 
DistfictsII V, and VII were comparatively quiet; dunng the remainder of 
the week only the first three districts named were active. _ 

The worst clashes were in Districts I and HI, and of those reported injured, 
34p^'c:nt received their wounds in the "Black Belt," ^^^^^''yJI 
per cent on the Southwest Side, in the district including the Stock Yards, 

"''rictor"' contributing to the subsidence of the riot -re the natural 
reaction from the tension, eSorts of police and citizens to curb the rioters, the 
entrlce of the militia on Wednesday, and last, but perhaps not least, a heavy 

""'The longest period of violence without noticeable lull was 9:00 A.M. Monday 
to 9;oo A.M Tuesday. On Tuesday the feeling was most intense, as shown 
by the nature of the dashes. Arson was prevalent on Tuesday for the fir t 
tiJ.Z the property loss was considerable. But judging by the only definite 
X "he nui^ber of dead and injured, Monday exceeded Tuesday m violence, 
showing 2.9 injured and eighteen dead as against 139 mjured and elev n 
dead ol the latter day. While it is apparent that no single hour or even day 
can be called the peak of the riot, the height of violence clearly falls w.thm 
the two-day period Monday, July 28, and Tuesday, July 29. 

tIc change in the nature of the clashes day by day showed an increas 
in intensity of feeUng and greater boldness in action. This develo^en 
reached its peak on Tuesday. Later came a decline, sporadic outbursts 
succeeding sustained activity. , , j i. j 

TacJs innuencing gro-^ih of the rioL-Mler the attacks had stopped 
about 3:00 A.M. Monday, they did not again assume serious proportions until 
Monday afternoon, when workers began to return to then- homes, and idle 
men gaAered in the streets in greater numbers than during working hours. 
?he Stock Yards laborers are dismissed for the day in shifts. Negroes coming 
^omie Yards at the 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., and later shifts were met by white 
gangs armed with bats and clubs. On Tuesday mormng men going to work, 
both Negro and white, were attacked. , i,- 1, , , 

The main areas of violence were thoroughfares and natuxa highways 
between the job and the home. On the South Si^de 76 per cent o all the 
injuries occurred on such streets. The most turbulent corners were those on 
State Street between Thirty-first and Thirty-ninth, on CotUge Grove Avenue 
!slfty-third Street, on Listed Street at Thirty-fifth and Forty-seventh 


streets and^on Archer Avenue at Thirty-fifth Street. Injuries at these spots 
were distributed as follows:^ 

Injuries Deaths 

State Street — 

at Thirty-first 7 

between Thirty-first and Thirty-fifth 2 

at Thirty-fifth 9 i 

between Thirty-fifth and Thirty-ninth 19 2 

at Thirty -ninth 3 

Cottage Grove Avenue — 

at Sixty-third Street 8 

Halsted Street — 

at Thirty-fifth 8 

at Forty-seventh 5 

Archer Avenue — 

at Thirty-fifth Street 7 

Streets which suffered most from rioting. were — • 

State 61 6 

Thirty-fifth 50 5 

Forty-seventh 32 2 

Halsted 32 

Thirty-first 29 i 

The street-car situation had an efiect upon the riot both before the strike 
and after it. Because of a shortage of labor at the time, the surface-street-car 
company had put on a number of inexperienced men. This may account 
for the inefficiency of some crews in handling attacked cars. 

An example is the case of Henry Goodman who was killed in an attack on 
a Thirty-ninth Street car. The car was stopped at Union Avenue by a truck 
suspiciously stalled across the tracks. White men boarded the car and beat 
and chased six or eight Negro passengers. When asked under oath to whom 
the truck directly in front of him belonged and what color it was, the motorman 
replied, "I couldn't say." When asked what time his car left the end of the 
line and whether or not he had seen any Negroes hit on the car, he answered, 
"I didn't pay any attention." The motorman said he made a report of the 
case, but it could not be found by anyone in the street-car company's office. 
The conductor of this car had been given orders to warn Negroes that there 
was rioting in the district through which the car ran. He did not do this. 
He ignored the truck. No names of witnesses were secured. The motorman 
was an extra man and had run on that route only during the day of the attack. 

In the case of John Mills, a Negro who was killed as he fled from a Forty- 
seventh Street car, the motorman left the car while Negroes were being beaten 

' Thirty-first, Thirty-fifth, and Thirty-ninth streets are chosen for special notice because 
these are transfer points for north and south cars to east and west lines. The figures given 
are for the first three days of the riot only. Other days showed too few injuries to allow 
accurate conclusions. 


inside it. Neither motorman nor conductor took names of witnesses or 
attempted to fix a description of the assailants in mind. 

When B. F. Hardy, a Negro, was killed on a street car at Forty-sixth 
Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, the motorman and conductor offered no 
resistance and did not get names or descriptions. 

The testimony of the conductor and motorman on a car attacked at 
Thirty-eight Street and Ashland Avenue was clear and showed an attempt to 
get all information possible. They secured names of witnesses. One member 
of the crew had been in the service of the Chicago Surface Lines for ten years, 
and the other for twelve years. 

The tie-up of the street railways affected the riot situation by forcing 
laborers to walk, making them more liable to assault in the hostile districts, 
by keeping many workers from jobs, turning out on the streets hundreds of 
idle men, and by increasing the use of automobiles. 

Tuesday morning two white men were killed while walking to work through 
the Negro area, and two Negroes were killed while going through the white area. 

Curiosity led the idle to the riot zone. One such was asked on the witness 
stand why he went. "What was I there for? Because I walked there — my 
own bad luck. I was curious to see how they did it, that is all." 

Under cover of legitimate use gangs used motor vehicles for raiding. 
Witnesses of rioting near Ogden Park said trucks unloaded passengers on 
Racine Avenue, faciUtating the formation of a mob. On Halsted Street 
crowds of young men rode in trucks shouting they were out to "get the niggers." 
An automobile load of young men headed off Heywood Thomas, Negro, and 
shot him, at Taylor and Halsted streets, as he was walking home from work. 

Beside daily routine and the street-car situation, the weather undoubtedly 
had an influence in the progress of the riot. July 27 was hot, 96 degrees, or 
fourteen points above normal. It was the culmination of a series of days 
with high temperatures around 95 degrees, which meant that nerves were 
strained. The warm weather of Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday also kept 
crowds on the streets and sitting on doorsteps until late at night. Innocent 
people trying to keep cool were injured when automobiles raced through the 
streets, the occupants firing to right and left. Wednesday night and Thursday 
it rained. Cool weather followed for the rest of the week. 

Gangs and "athletic clubs." — Gangs and their activities were an important 
factor throughout the riot. But for them it is doubtful if the riot would have 
gone beyond the first clash. Both organized gangs and those which sprang 
into existence because of the opportunity afforded seized upon the excuse 
of the first conflict to engage in lawless acts. 

It was no new thing for youthful white and Negro groups to come to 
violence. For years, as the sections of this report dealing with antecedent 
clashes and with recreation show, there had been clashes over baseball grounds, 
swimming-pools in the parks, the right to walk on certain streets, etc. 


Gangs whose activities figured so prominently in the riot were all white 
gangs, or "athletic clubs." Negro hoodlums do not appear to form organized 
gangs so readily. Judges of the municipal court said that there are no gang 
organizations among Negroes to compare with those found among young whites. 

The Stock Yards district, just west of the main Negro area, is the home 
of many of these white gangs and clubs; it is designated as District III in the 
discussion of the riot growth. The state's attorney, as already indicated 
(see p. 8), referred to the many young offenders who come from this particular 
district. A police detective sergeant who investigated the riot cases in this 
district said of this section, "It is a pretty tough neighborhood to try to get 
any information out there; you can't do it." A poHceman on the beat in 
the district said, "There is the Canaryville bunch in there and the Hamburg 
bunch. It is a pretty tough hole in there." 

There was much evidence and talk of the poUtical "pull" and even leader- 
ship of these gangs with reference to their activities in the riot. A member 
of "Ragen's Colts" just after the riot passed the word that the "coppers" 
from downtown were looking for club members, but that "there need be no 
fear of the coppers from the station at the Yards for they were all fixed and told 
to lay off on club members." During the riot he -claimed they were well 
protected by always having a "cop" ride in one of the automobiles so every- 
thing would be "O.K." in case members of the gang were picked up. Another 
member of the club said hctad been " tipped off by the police at the Yards 
to clean out and keep away fromi the usual hangouts because investigators 
were working out of Hoyne's and out of Brundage's offices, and were checking 
up on the activities of the 'Ragen's' during the riot." 

The foreman of the August grand jury which investigated the riot cases 
said in testifying before the Commission: 

The lead we got to investigate the Forty-seventh Street district was from an 
anonymous letter stating that Ragen had such influence in the Forty-seventh Street 
police station that these individuals were allowed to go without due process of law. 

I didn't believe that was a fact in this particular instance. We did learn that 
Ragen was a great power in that district and at the time of our investigation we 
learned that some of the "Ragen's Colts" had broken into the police station and 
pried open a door of a closet where they had a good deal of evidence in the nature of 
weapons of prisoners concealed, and they got all of this evidence out of there without 
the police knowing anything about it. 

The station referred to is at Forty-seventh and Halsted streets. Gangs 
operated for hours up and down Forty-seventh Street, Wells, Princeton, Shields, 
and Wentworth avenues and Federal Street without hindrance from the poUce. 

A judge of the municipal court said in testimony before the Commission: 
"They seemed to think they had a sort of protection which entitled them to 
go out and assault anybody. When the race riots occurred it gave them 
something to satiate the desure to inflict their evil propensities on others." 



Actual photograph of the killing of a Negro by the mob shown above after chasing him into his home. 



ft-as knocked from the stairway by a brick. Two men are here shown hurUng bricks at the dying Negro 



Besides shouting as they rode down the streets in trucks that they were 
out to "get the niggers, " they defied the law in other ways. When the miUtia 
men came on the scene on the fourth day of the riot, they testified to trouble 
with these gangsters. One of the colonels testified before the Commission: 
"They didn't like to be controlled. They would load up heavy trucks with 
rowdies and try to force through the lines. They'd come tooting their horns 
and having back pressure explosions like gatling guns." 

Some of the "athletic club" gangsters had criminal records. L — W — 
was accused of being one of the leaders of the gang around Forty-seventh and 
Wells streets. He himseK said boastfully, "I have been arrested about 
fifteen times for 'disorderly' and never was arrested with a knife or a gun." 
Several witnesses said they had seen him during the riot one night leading 
the mob and brandishing a razor and the next night waving a gun. He was 
not arrested. D — H — , seventeen years old, was identified as being active 
in the rioting near Forty-seventh Street and Forres tville Avenue. His defense 
was that he was not closer to the Negro assaulted than across the street, but 
because he was arrested the year before for a "stick-up " people looked "funny " 
at him when anything happened. R — C — was accused of having been 
implicated in the arson cases on Shields Avenue. When his mother was 
interviewed, she said she knew nothing of the rioting, but said her son was at 
the time in the county jail, "but not for that." W — G — was identified 
many times as having taken part in the arson on Wentworth Avenue. He was 
indicted for both arson and conspiracy to riot. Two years before the riot he 
had been arrested for larceny. 

All who discussed gangs before the Commission said that most of the 
members were boys of seventeen to twenty-two years of age. Witnesses 
before the coroner's juries testified to the youth of the participants in mobs. 
Many of the active assailants of street cars were boys. In the case of the Negro 
Hardy who was killed on a street car, it was said that the murderers were 
not over twenty years, and many were nearer sixteen. In the raids in the 
Ogden Park district the participants were between the ages of fifteen and 
twenty. The raid just west of Wentworth Avenue, where a number of houses 
were much damaged, was perpetrated by boys of these ages. The attacking 
mob on Forty- third Street near Forrestville Avenue, was led by boys of eighteen 
to twenty-one. The only two hoodlums caught participating in the outrages 
in the "Loop," the downtown business district, were seventeen and about 
twenty-one. Most of those arrested on suspicion in the arson cases were 
taken before the boys' court. Negroes involved in many cases as assailants 
were also youthful. The young Negro boys who killed Lazzeroni were fourteen 
to eighteen; those who killed Pareko and Perel were about sixteen. 

A member of "Ragen's Colts" is said to have boasted that their territory ex- 
tended from Cottage Grove Avenue to Ashland Avenue and from Forty-third 
Street to Sixty-third Street. At Sixty-third Street and Cottage Grove Avenue 


they were said to have attacked a colored man in a restaurant and thrown him 
out of the window. It was reported that trucks of a downtown store, each 
carrying about thirty men, yelling that they were "Ragen's Colts" and that 
"Ragen's bunch" were going to clean out the community, came to Sixtieth 
Street and Racine Avenue. Some of the boys who took part in the assault 
upon Negroes at Sixtieth and Ada streets were reputed to be members of 
"Ragen's Colts." The club, according to some of its own members, operated 
with automobiles from which they managed to "bump off a number of Niggers." 
A truck driver said he had driven some "Ragen's Colts" to Forty-seventh 
and Halsted streets, where they "dropped" four or five people, then he drove 
them back to the "Ragen's Colts" clubhouse at Fifty-second and Halsted 
streets. "And, " he says, " they had plenty of guns and ammunition." State's 
Attorney Hoyne, however, said that no evidence could be found that "Ragen's 
Colts" had a store of arms. Members of the Illinois Reserve Militia reported 
that they had been threatened by "Ragen's Colts" that they would be picked 
off one by one when they got off duty. 

One of the most serious cases of rioting in which members of "Ragen's 
Colts" were reported to be implicated was the raid upon Shields Avenue, 
where there were nine houses occupied by Negroes. At 8 : 30 Tuesday evening 
200 or 300 gangsters started at one corner and worked through the block, 
throwing furniture out of windows and setting fires. A white man who owned 
a house on this street which he rented to Negroes says that after the raid 
several young men warned him, "If you open your mouth against 'Ragen's' 
we will not only burn your house down but we will 'do' you." 

The Lorraine Club, according to five witnesses, was also implicated in 
arson and raids upon homes of Negroes. Their operations, according to reports, 
were on Forty-seventh Street and on Wells Street and Wentworth Avenue 
between Forty-seventh and Forty-eighth streets. Negroes were chased, 
guns were fired, windows broken, front doors smashed in, furniture destroyed, 
and finally homes were burned. All Negro families were driven out. The 
attack was planned, and news of its imminence spread abroad in the morning. 
Rioting started in the afternoon of July 29, and culminated late that night. 
There was no interference from the police at any time. It was said that one 
of the leaders of the gang who had an express and coal yard carried away 
furniture in his wagon. Another was recognized as a youth who had shot a 
Negro woman during the afternoon. They are reported to have attacked an 
undertaker and friends who came to remove the body of a dead Negro. Three 
of the rioters were arrested upon the identification of several people, but two 
were released in the municipal court, and the third had a "no bill" returned 
before the grand jury. One was released because no witnesses were present 
to prosecute him. The witnesses said they were not notified. 

A member of the Lorraine Club denied that his club had anything to 
do with this riot, but said it was Our Flag Club that did the "dirty work." 


Our Flag Club is located farther east on Forty-seventh Street near Union 
Avenue. When John Mills was dragged from a street car at this point and 
killed, a policeman recognized several of the club's members in the crowd, 
but vouchsafed the opinion that they were not part of the aggressive mob, 
"for they did not run as did the others when the patrol came down the street." 
Another policeman said he had never had any trouble with the club. 

Eight members of the Sparklers' Club were seen at the fire at 5919 Went- 
worth Avenue, a building in which two Negro families Hved. The arson is 
reported to have been planned in a neighboring cigar store. One of the boys 
put waste soaked in gasoline under the porch and ran. Two of them threw 
oil in the building and two others lit it. It took three attempts to make a 
fire at this place. Each time it was started the Fire Department put it out. 
Two of the boys are declared to have stolen phonograph records and silverware 
from the house. A lad not a member of the club was with them at the fire. 
Afterward one of the boys warned him, "Watch your dice and be careful or 
you won't see your home any more." Six boys were held for arson, in connec- 
tion with this affair; one was discharged in the boys' court, and the cases of 
two others were nolle prossed. In connection with their arrest the Chicago 
Tribune of August 15, 19 19, said: 

Evidence that organized bands of white youths have been making a business of 
burning Negro dwellings was said to have been handed to Attorney General Brundage 

and Assistant State's Attorney Irwin Walker Chief of Police Garrity, also 

informed of the Fire Marshal's charges, declared several so-called athletic clubs in 
the Stock Yards district may lose their charters as a result. 

A report about the Aylward Club was to the effect that as the Negroes 
came from the Stock Yards on Monday, a gang of its members armed with 
clubs was waiting for them and that each singled out a Negro and beat him, 
the police looking on. 

The names of a number of gang ringleaders were reported by investigators. 
For illustration, L. Dennis, a Negro of 6059 Throop Street, was attacked 
on the night of Monday, July 28, by a mob led by three roughs whose names 
were learned and whose loafing place was at Sixty-third Street and Racine 
Avenue. A mob of thirty white men who shot Francis Green, Negro, eighteen 
years old, at Garfield Boulevard and State Street had a club headquarters in 
the vicinity of Fifty-fourth Street and their "hangout" was at the corner of 
Garfield Boulevard and State Street. 

Other clubs mentioned in riot testimony before the coroner's jury, but 
not in connection with riot clashes, are the Pine Club, the Hamburgers, the 
Emeralds, the White Club, Favis Grey's, and the Mayflower. The poHce 
closed the clubs for a period of several months after the riot. There were then 
in existence a number of Negro gambling clubs, and the state's attorney 
declared that it was the colored gamblers who "started this shooting and 
tearing around town," and that "as soon as they heard the news that the boy 


Williams was drowned, they filled three or four machines and started out to 

A saloon-keeper near Wabash Avenue and Fifty-fifth Street, one of the 
leaders of these colored gamblers, was identified by a white woman as being 
in an automobile with five other Negroes exhorting colored men to riot after 
the drowning of WilUams. The next day he was arrested in an automobile 
with other colored men who were said to be shooting into the homes of white 
people. They were arrested but were discharged by Judge Barasa at the 
Stock Yards court. 

Police raids were made on some of the "Black Belt" clubs on August 23. 
At the Ranier Club, 3010 South State Street, two revolvers, one razor, 
one "black-jack," seven cartridges, one cattle knife, and one ordinary knife 
were found. At the Pioneer Club, 3512 South State Street, eight guns, four 
packages of cartridges and twenty-four knives were taken. A raid at 2700 
South State Street netted four guns, one hunting-knife, and fifty-eight cartridges 
and bullets. 

The foreman of the grand jury which investigated the riots discussing the 
"athletic" and "social" clubs before the Commission, said: 

Most of them were closed immediately after the riots. There were "Ragen's 
Colts," as they were known, concerning whom the grand jury were particularly anxious 
to get something concrete, alt'jough no evidence was presented that convicted any 
of the members of that club. There were the Hamburgers, another athletic club, 
the Lotus Club, the Mayflower, and various clubs. These were white clubs. 
Asked if they really were athletic clubs, he rephed: 

I think they are athletic only with their fists and brass knuckles and guns. We 
had Mr. Ragen before the grand jury, and he told us of the noble work that they 
were doing in the district, that Father Brian, who had charge of these boys, taught 
them to box and how to build themselves up physically, and they were doing a most 
noble work, and you would think that Ragen was a public benefactor. During the 
deliberations of this grand jury a number of anonymous letters were written with 
reference to "Ragen's Colts," and most of the explanations of the fact that they 
failed to put their names on these letters were that they were afraid they would lose 
their lives. 

The grand jury included in its report this reference to the gang and club 
phase of the riot: 

The authorities employed to enforce the law should thoroughly investigate clubs 
and other organizations posing as athletic and social clubs which really are organiza- 
tions of hoodlums and criminals formed for the purpose of furthering the interest of 
local politics. In the opinion of this jury many of the crimes committed in the 
"Black Belt" by whites and the fires that were started back of the Yards, which, 
however, were credited to the Negroes, were more than likely the work of the gangs 
operating on the Southwest Side under the guise of these clubs, and the jury believes 
that these fires were started for the purpose of inciting race feeling by blaming same 
on the blacks. These gangs have apparently taken an active part in the race riots, 
and no arrests of their members have been made as far as this jury is aware. 









The coroner's jury which conducted inquests into the thirty-eight riot 
deaths said: 

The suggestion has also been made that race hatred and tendency to race rioting 
had its birth and was fostered in the numerous social and athletic clubs made up of 
young men and scattered throughout the city. We doubt this, but if in part true, it 
calls for the inspection and control of such clubs. These clubs are here, they are 
popular, they take the place of the disappearing saloon and poolroom. Properly 
governed and controlled, they should be encouraged and fostered and, when necessary, 

Hoodlums are the nucleus of a mob — the young, idle, vicious, and in many 
instances degenerate and criminal, impatient of restraint of law, gather together, and 
when fortified by sufficient numbers, start out on a mission of disorder, law-breaking, 
destruction, and murder. Mobs, white or colored, grow about a nucleus of this 

Types of clashes. — Racial outbreaks are often characterized by hangings, 
burnings, and mutilations, and frequently the cause given for them is a reported 
Negro attack upon a white woman. None of these features appeared in the 
Chicago riot. An attempted hanging was reported by a white detective 
but was unsubstantiated. A report that Joseph Lovings, one of the Negroes 
killed in the riot, was burned, was heralded abroad and even carried to the 
United States Senate, but it was false. The coroner's physicians found no 
burns on his body. 

Reports of assaults upon women were at no time mentioned or even hinted 
at as a cause of the Chicago riot, but after the disorder started reports of such 
crimes were published in the white and Negro press, but they had no foundation 
in fact. 

Of the ten women wounded in the Chicago riot, seven were white, two were 
Negroes, and the race of one is unknown. All but one of these ten injuries 
appears to have been accidental. The exception was the case of Roxy Pratt, 
a Negro woman who, with her brother, was chased down Wells Street from 
Forty-seventh by gangsters and was seriously wounded by a bullet. No cases 
of direct attacks upon white women by Negro men were reported. 

The Commission has the record of numerous instances, principally during 
the first twenty-four hours, where individuals of opposing races met, knives 
or guns were drawn, and injury was inflicted without the element of mob 

On Monday mobs operated in sudden, excited assaults, and attacks on 
street cars provided outstanding cases, five persons being killed and many 
injured. Nicholas Kleinmark, a white assailant, was stabbed to death by a 
Negro named Scott, acting in seK-defense. Negroes killed were Henry Good- 
man at Thirtieth and Union streets; John Mills, on Forty-seventh Street 
near Union; Louis Taylor at Root Street and Wentworth Avenue; and B. F. 
Hardy at Forty-sixth Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. All died from 


Crowds armed themselves with stones, bricks, and baseball bats and 
scanned passing street cars for Negroes. Finding them, trolleys were pulled 
off wires and entrance to the cars forced. Negroes were dragged from under 
car seats and beaten. Once off the car the chase began. If possible, the 
vanguard of the mob caught the fleeing Negroes and beat them with clubs. If 
the Negro outran the pursuers, stones and bricks brought him down. Some- 
times the chase led through back yards and over fences, but it was always short. 

Another type of race warfare was the automobile raids carried on by young 
men crowded in cars, speeding across the dead line at Wentworth Avenue 
and the "Black Belt," and firing at random. Crowded colored districts, 
with people sitting on front steps and in open windows, were subjected to this 
menace. Strangely enough, only one person was killed in these raids, Henry 
Baker, Negro. 

Automobile raids were reported wherever colored people had established 
themselves, in the "Black Belt," both on the main business streets and in 
the residence sections, and in the small community near Ada and Loomis 
streets in the vicinity of Ogden Park. 

These raids began Monday night, continued spasmodically all day Tuesday, 
and were again prevalent that night. In spite of the long period, reports of 
motorcycle policemen show no white raiders arrested. One suspected raiding 
automobile was caught on State Street Tuesday night, after collision with a 
patrol wagon. One of the occupants, a white man, had on his person the 
badge and identification card of a policeman assigned to the Twenty-fourth 
Precinct. No case was worked up against him, and the other men in the 
machine were not heard of again in connection with the raid. 

Most of the police motorcycle squad was assigned to the Stanton Avenue 
station, which was used as police headquarters in the "Black Belt." Several 
automobile loads of Negroes were arrested, and firearmfs^were found either 
upon their persons or in the automobile. 

In only two cases were Negroes aggressively rioting found outside of the 
"Black Belt." One of these was the case of the saloon-keeper already men- 
tioned, and the other was that of a deputy sheriff, who, with a party of other 
men, said they were on the way to the Stock Yards to rescue some beleaguered 
members of their race. It is reported that they wounded five white people 
en route. Sheriff Peters said he understood that the deputy sheriff was 
attacked by white mobs and fired to clear the crowd. He was not convicted. 

"Sniping" was a form of retaliation by Negroes which grew out of the 
automobile raids. These raiding automobiles were fired upon from yards, 
porches, and windows throughout the "Black Belt." One of the most serious 
cases reported was at Thirty-first and State streets, where Negroes barricaded 
the streets with rubbish boxes. Motorcycle Policeman Cheney rammed 
through and was hit by a bullet. His companion officer following was knocked 
from his machine and the machine punctured with bullets. 


After the wounding of PoKceman Cheney and Sergeant Murray, of the 
Sixth Precinct, poHcemen made a thorough search of all Negro homes near 
the scene of the "sniping." Thirty-four Negroes were arrested. Of these, 
ten were discharged, ten were found not guilty, one was given one day in jail, 
one was given five days in jail, one was fined and put on probation, two were 
fined $10 and costs, one was fined $25; six were given thirty days each in the 
House of Correction, and one, who admitted firing twice but said he was firing 
at one of the automobiles, was sentenced to six months in the House of Correc- 
tion. His case was taken to the appellate court. 

Concerted retaliatory race action showed itself in the Itahan district 
around Taylor and Loomis streets when rumor said that a Httle Italian girl 
had been killed or wounded by a shot fired by a Negro. Joseph Lovings, an 
innocent Negro, came upon the excited crowd of Itahans. There was a short 
chase through back yards. Finally Lovings was dragged from his hiding- 
place in a basement and brutally murdered by the crowd. The coroner 
reported fourteen bullet wounds on his body, eight still having bullets in them; 
also various stab wounds, contusions of the head, and fractures of the skull. 
Rumor made the tale more hideous, saying that Lovings was burned after 
gasoHne had been poured over the dead body. This was not true. 

This same massing of race against race was shown in a similar clash between 
Itahans and Negroes on the North Side. The results here, however, were not 
serious. It was reported in this last case that immediately after the fracas 
the Negroes and Italians were again on good terms. This was not true in 
the neighborhood of the Lovings outrage. Miss Jane Addams, of Hull-House, 
which is near the scene of Lovings' death, testified before the Commission 
that before the riot the Italians held no particular animosity toward Negroes, 
for those in the neighborhood were mostly from South Italy and accustomed 
to the dark-skinned races, but that they were developing antipathy. In the 
September following the riot, she said the neighborhood was still full of wild 
stories so stereotyped in character that they appeared to indicate propaganda 
spread for a purpose. 

The gang which operated in the "Loop" was composed partly of soldiers 
and sailors in uniform; they were boys of from seventeen to twenty-two, 
out for a "rough" time and using race prejudice as a shield for robbery. At 
times this crowd numbered 100. Its depredations began shortly after 2 : 00 a.m. 
Tuesday. The La Salle Street railroad station was entered twice, and Negro 
men were beaten and robbed. About 3:00 a.m. activities were transferred 
to Wabash Avenue. In the hunt for Negroes one restaurant was wrecked 
and the vandahsm was continued in another restaurant where two Negroes 
were found. One was severely injured and the other was shot down. The 
gangsters rolled the body into the gutter and turned the pockets inside out; they 
stood on the corner of Wabash Avenue and Adams Street and divided the spoils, 
openly boasting later of having secured $5 2 , a diamond ring, a watch, and a brooch. 


Attacks in the "Loop" continued as late as ten o'clock Tuesday morning, 
Negroes being chased through the streets and beaten. Warned by the Pinker- 
ton Detective Agency, business men with stores on Wabash Avenue came to 
protect their property. The rioting was reported to the police by the restaurant 
men. PoUcemen rescued two Negroes that morning, but so many policemen 
had been concentrated in and near the "Black Belt" that there were only 
a few patrolmen in the whole "Loop" district, and these did not actively 
endeavor to cope with the mob. In the meantime two Negroes were killed 
and others injured, while property was seriously damaged. 

Tuesday's raids marked the peak of daring during the riot, and their 
subsidence was as gradual as their rise. For the next two days the gangs 
roamed the streets, intermittently attacking Negro homes. After Tuesday 
midnight their operations were not so open or so concerted. The riot gradually 
decreased in feehng and scope till the last event of a serious nature occurred, 
the incendiary fires back of the Stock Yards. 

While there is general agreement that these fires were incendiary, no clue 
could be found to the perpetrators. Negroes were suspected, as all the houses 
burned belonged to whites. In spite of this fact, and the testimony of thirteen 
people who said they saw Negroes in the vicinity before or during the fires, 
a rumor persisted that the fires were set by white people with blackened faces. 
One of the men living in the burned district who testified to seeing a motor 
truck filled with Negroes said, when asked about the color of the men, "Sure, 
I know they were colored. Of course I don't know whether they were 
painted." An early milk- wagon driver said that he saw Negroes come out 
of a barn on Forty-third Street and Hermitage Avenue. Immediately after- 
ward the barn burst into flames. He ran to a poHceman and reported it. 
The policeman said he was "too busy" and "it is all right anyway." One of 
the colonels commanding a regiment of militia said he thought white people 
with blackened faces had set fire to the houses; he got this opinion from talking 
to the police in charge of that district. 

Miss Mary McDowell, of the University of Chicago Settlement, which is 
located back of the Yards, said in testimony before the Commission: 

I don't think the Negroes did bum the houses. I think the white hoodlums 
burned them. The Negroes weren't back there, they stayed at home after that 
Monday. When we got hold of the firemen confidentially, they said no Negroes 
set fire to them at all, but the newspapers said so and the people were full of fear. 
All kinds of mythical stories were afloat for some time. 

The general superintendent of Armour & Company was asked, when testi- 
fying before the Commission, if he knew of any substantial reason why 
Negroes were accused of setting fires back of the Yards. He answered: 

That statement was originated in the minds of a few individuals, radicals. It 
does not exist in the minds of the conservative and thinking people of the community, 
even those living in back of the Yards. They know better. I believe it goes without 


sajang that there isn't a colored man, regardless of how little brains he'd have, who 
would attempt to go over into the Polish district and set fire to anybody's house 
over there. He wouldn 't get that far. 

The controlling superintendent of Swift & Company said he could not say it 
from his own experience, but he understood there was as much friction between 
the Poles and Lithuanians who worked together in the Yards as between the 
Negroes and the whites. The homes burned belonged to Lithuanians. The 
grand jury stated in its report: "The jury believes that these fires were started 
for the purpose of inciting race feeling by blaming same on the blacks." 

The methods of attack used by Negroes and whites during the riot differed; 
the Negroes usually clung to individual attack and the whites to mob action. 
Negroes used chiefly firearms and knives, and the whites used their fists, 
bricks, stones, baseball bats, pieces of iron, hammers. Among the white men, 
69 per cent were shot or stabbed and 31 per cent were beaten; among the 
Negroes almost the reverse was true, 35 per cent being shot and stabbed and 
65 per cent beaten. A colonel in charge of a regiment of militia on riot duty 
says they found few whites but many Negroes armed. 

Arms and ammunition. — The foregoing figures and statements gave some 
color to the belief persistent during and after the riot that Negroes had stores 
of arms and ammunition. A lieutenant of police testified before the coroner's 
jury that he had known in advance that the riot was coming because " there 
were guns in every house out there; I knew they were there for a purpose." 
He said he had heard that Negroes had been advised to arm themselves and 
defend their homes, that the Constitution of the United States provided for 
that. The state's attorney said before the Commission that prior to the 
riot he had received reports from detectives of private agencies stating the same 
thing. He was informed that Negroes readily got firearms from Gary, Indiana, 
and that porters on the Pullman trains brought them in from outside places. 
He further stated: "I am very definitely assured of the fact that they were 
arming and that there were more arms and weapons grouped in that general 
district loosely termed the 'Black Belt' than any place else, and my informa- 
tion is that conditions are that way now." 

During the riot there were frequent rumors that Negroes had broken into 
the Eighth Regiment Armory for guns and ammunition, but all these rumors 
were proved false. 

Since the riot many tales have been told of stores of arms brought in by 
Pullman porters and by white prostitutes. Mexicans were reported to be 
assisting Negroes in the manufacture of bombs and hand grenades. Lists of 
addresses where ammunition was being stored have been gathered by detec- 
tives, but not verified. 

The same sort of rumors are found circulating among the Negroes in regard 
to the arming of whites. It is said that such and such white men have great 
boxes of guns and ammunition in the cellars of their homes, and that white 


men are forming shooting clubs for the purpose of attacking Negroes in the 
event of another riot. There are also widely believed stories that a department 
store sold guns to white people before the riot but refused to sell to Negroes. It 
was said that pawn shops sold to white people without permits from the police. 

Crowds aitd mobs. — It may be observed that a crowd is merely a gathering 
of people while a mob is a crowd with its attention so strongly fixed upon some 
lawless purpose that other purposes are inhibited and it acts along the line 
of the one purpose. During the riot many crowds of curiosity seekers were 
transformed into vicious mobs when exciting rumors circulated and the sugges- 
tion of vengeance was made by leaders. Such suggestion was frequently 
accompanied by some daring act, stimulated by the excitement. 

The mob in its entirety usually did not participate actively. It was one 
in spirit, but divided in performance into a small active nucleus and a large 
proportion of spectators. The nucleus was composed of young men from 
sixteen to twenty-one or twenty-two years of age. Sometimes only four would 
be active while fifty or 150 looked on, but at times the proportion would be as 
great as twenty-five in 200 or fifty in 300. Fifty is the largest number reported 
for a mob nucleus. This was in the case of John Mills and five other Negroes 
who were beaten, dragged off a Forty-seventh Street car and chased. Mills 
being killed. Here there were three degrees of crowd formation. First came 
the nucleus of fifty active men who did the beating, chasing, and killing. 
Closely aiding and abetting them were 300 or 400 others. After the Negroes 
had been forced off the car and were being hunted through the neighborhood 
a crowd of about 2,000 gathered and followed the vanguard of attackers 
and spectators. These were present out of morbid curiosity, but sufficiently 
imbued with the spirit of the mob not to interfere with the outrages. 

The fact that children were frequently a part of mobs is one of the thought- 
provoking facts of the Chicago riot. Psychologists say that impressions made 
upon the child mind are forces which mold adult character to a great extent. 
A number of children, some not more than four or five years old, swarmed 
in front of the Forty-seventh Street car in the John Mills case and effectively 
blocked it while men climbed aboard and sought out the Negroes. Children, 
often witnesses of mob brutality, ran to where Negro victims had fallen and 
pointed them out to the policemen who came up after the mobs had dispersed. 

There were others, still children in mind, Negro boys of fifteen, accused 
of murders. The enormity of their acts faded in the joy of describing their 
weapons. "Fat had a club; it looked like a police club," said one, "it had 
leather on it." "And the gun had a Uttle picture of an owl on the side of it," 
said another describing a patched-up weapon that brought down a white 
laboring-man who left a widow and eight children. 

Among the spectators of mob violence were men, women, and children 
of all ages; they included tradesmen, craftsmen, salesmen, laborers. Though 
the spectators did not commit the crimes, they must share the moral responsi- 











bility. Without the spectators mob violence would probably have stopped 
short of murder in many cases. An example of the behavior of the active 
nucleus when out of sight of the spectators bears this out. George Carr, 
Negro, was chased from a street car. He outstripped all but the vanguard 
of the mob by climbing fences and hiding in a back yard. This concealed 
him from the rest of the crowd, who by that time were chasing other Negroes. 
The young men who followed Carr left him without striking a blow, upon his 
mere request for clemency. In regard to the large non-active elements in 
the crowds, the coroner said during the inquest, "It is just the sweUing of 
crowds of that kind that urges them on, because they naturally feel that they 
are backed up by the balance of the crowd, which may not be true, but they 
feel that way." Juror Ware said, "If sightseers were lending their aid and 
assistance — " Juror Dillon interrupted and finished, "they ought to be 

Often the "sightseers" and even those included in the nucleus did not know 
why they had taken part in crimes the viciousness of which was not apparent 
to them until afterward. A mere attempt to cover up participation would 
have called forth excuses in testimony, but their answers show irritation at 
the questioning, an inability to appreciate the situation, or complete bewilder- 
ment. These excerpts from the testimony before the coroner's jury are 

Henry Woodman, in the mob at Sixtieth and Ada streets: "I don't know. 
I didn't have any grudge against them [the Negroes]. But they [the mob] 
seemed to have it in for the colored people. That is all." 

Edward Klose, in the mob in front of 102 1 South State Street: "I followed 

the crowd, and I was in there because I was in there; they all bimched around 

and what could I do ? " 

One of the boys in the mob at Forty- third Street and Forrestville Avenue: 

"I just wanted to see how things were getting along. We wanted to see 

what the riot looked like." 

Another of this same crowd: "I was following the rest. I wanted to see 

what they were going to do." 

Another from the same mob: "When they started to grab them [the 

Negroes] in the lot, I rushed over directly to the conflict, by the colored men, 

thinking I would see more on that side." 

Mobs got under way for the commission of atrocities by having the direct 

suggestion put to them by one of the leaders. With minds already prepared 

by rumors circulating wherever crowds gathered, it was easy to arouse action. 

A street car approaching and the cry, "Get the niggers!" was enough. 

Prompt action clinched the idea, and the emotion of the attack narrowed the 

field of consciousness. War cries aided in keeping emotion at fever heat. 

"Get the nigger!" "KiU the black — of a !" "Kill him!" These 

were always an incident of mob action. 


Counter-suggestion was not tolerated when the mob was rampant. A 
suggestion of clemency was shouted down with the derisive epithet, "Nigger 
lover!" Silenced objectors made no further effort to thwart mob action. 
There are no records of such persons notifying the police or persisting in their 
remonstrances. Those whose objections took the form of action against 
the mob met with violence. A white man, an instructor in music at the 
University of Chicago, saw several white men attack a Negro who was waiting 
for a street car at Sixty-third Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. Without 
trying verbal remonstrance he struck out at them. His glasses were knocked 
off, and he was thrown into the middle of the street and left unconscious. 

Not only did action once under way make interference hazardous, but it 
brought into the mob circle a greater number of participants and increased 
its energy. Five men jerked a trolley from the wires; ten men boarded the 
car; twenty-five men chased and beat the routed Negroes. The mob action 
grew faster than the increase in numbers. Ideas suggested by individual 
members were quickly carried out in the action of all. The mob as a whole 
and the individuals in it increased in fury, and a normal street crowd was 
often turned from peaceful assemblage to brutal murder. 

A sharp diversion of attention sometimes caused the dispersal of mobs. 
An unexpected revolver shot was the most effective means of such diversion. 
Here are some instances: 

When Thomas Joshua, a Negro boy, was shot by Police Lieutenant Day, 
a throng of Negroes came on the run from State Street. The officers, terrified, 
escaped in a taxi, leaving their own automobile behind. The mob attempted 
to make this car suffer vicariously for the escaped police officers. Other 
poHcemen on the scene had difficulty in holding them back. Two shots were 
heard on Federal Street. Immediately the crowd ceased its clamoring, left 
the automobile, and apparently lost all thought of Lieutenant Day and ran 
to Federal Street. 

In the first mob of the riot, that at Twenty-ninth Street and Cottage 
Grove Avenue, Negroes and pohcemen were struggling in a mass in the middle 
of the street. A shot was fired by James Crawford, and the mob dispersed 
from that corner. 

A mob chased a Negro off a street car on Thirty-ninth Street near Wal- 
lace. A pohceman with presence of mind followed the group into the alley, 
fired a few shots in the air, and the crowd ran. 

In no case where an unexpected shot was fired did it fail to scatter the mob, 
but shooting which was part of the mob's own action did not seem to have 
the same effect. 

The course of one riotous mob can be traced in the activities of a certain 
group of five white boys who linked up with the riot excitement. They met 
at the corner^of Sixty-third Street and Ingleside Avenue at 8:30 Monday even- 
ing. While they were trying to decide which movie to attend, a taxi driver 


informed them of a riot at Forty-seventh Street. They took the " L " to Forty- 
seventh Street and joined the mob. From then until 2:00 a.m. they were 
active in mobs which assaulted Negroes at several points. Two were beaten 
at Forty-seventh Street and the elevated railway. The mob then proceeded 
to Fifty-first Street, but the police drove it back and it moved on to Indiana 
Avenue and Forty-third Street, where a deputy sheriff held it off. Returning 
here later it attacked a street car, beat a Negro, and then moved south on 
Indiana Avenue, jerking trolleys from wires and assaulting passengers. At 
Forty-fifth Street a shot fired by a poUce sergeant scattered it toward Forty- 
third Street. 

There the mob met Lieutenant Washington, a Negro ex-soldier, who, with 
five Negro companions, was obliged to walk across town because car service 
had been discontinued on account of the rioting. Lieutenant Washington, 
testifying before the coroner's jury, gave this account of the affair: 

After we crossed Grand Boulevard I heard a yell, "One, two, three, four, five, 
six," and then they gave a loud cheer and said, "Everybody, let's get the niggers! 
Let's get the niggers," and we noticed some of them crossed the street and walked 
on up even with us. The rest of them were about ten or fifteen feet north .... there 
were about between four and six men .... crossed the street and got in front of 
us ... . just before we got to Forrestville Avenue, about twenty yards, they swarmed 
in on us. 

After this attack, in which Lieutenant Browning was shot, and Clarence 
Metz, a white boy, was kiUed by a stab wound inflicted by Lieutenant Washing- 
ton in self-defense, the mob moved on to Grand Boulevard, preceded by the 
rumor that it intended to attack the homes of Negroes. A shot from a house 
grazed a white lad, and the crowd went on, leaving the police to come and 
arrest the Negroes who had fired. 

Mob action in planned attacks was more daring, but not more dangerous. 
Robbery was occasionally an accompaniment of spontaneous attack, but arson 
never. Whether or not some of the organized raids could readily have been 
stopped by the poHce, and the mobs dispersed, remains unproved. No 
attempt was made either in the "Loop" district, in the Forty-seventh and 
Wells streets districts or in the Sixty-ninth and Elizabeth streets district to 
check the depredations. 

Rumor. — Rumor was often the first step in crowd formation and often 
opened the way for the sharp transformation of a crowd into a mob. The 
circulation of rumors was partly due to natural repetition, often with increasing 
embellishment, by one person to another of what he had heard or read. The 
desire to tell a "big story" and create a sensation was no doubt an important 
factor. With so much bitter feehng there was also considerable conscious 
effort to provoke vengeful animosity by telling the worst that the teller had 
heard or could imagine about the doings of the opposite race. The latter 
type of rumor circulation especially fed the riot from the beginning to the 



final clash. It continues to be a constant menace to the friendly relations 
of the races. 

Newspapers were often supplied a source of rumor material through 
mistake in fundamental facts, due either to misinformation or exaggeration. 

In considering the newspaper handling of riot news, it should be borne in 
mind that the task was most difficult during a period of such excitement 
and such crowding of events. Further it must be considered that white 
reporters might very justifiably avoid the risk of seeking news where 
crowds of Negroes had been roused to a high pitch of resentment against 
whites. There were doubtless instances in which news was secured from 
sources ordinarily trustworthy, but inaccurate during the riot. On the other 
hand, it must be recognized that in a time of such excitement the effect of 
sensational news on the popular mind is generally accentuated, and the responsi- 
bility for careful handUng of news is correspondingly greater. Where bias 
is as pronounced as in a race riot it is of the utmost importance that essential 
facts be stated correctly. 



Number of Injured as 

Reported by the 
"Tribune" AND "Herald- 
Examiner" DURING the 
First Four Days or 

Facts as Later Obtained from 
Police, State's Attorney, 

Hospital Reports, and Olivet 

Baptist Church, Covering 

Each Day 








Tulv 27 

















Tuly 28 

July 29 

Tulv ^0 









Percentage of total 








Reports of numbers of dead and injured tended to produce a feeling that 
the score must be evened up on the basis of "an eye for an eye," a Negro 
for a white, or vice versa. A most unfortunate impression may be made upon 
an excited pubhc, Negro and white, by such erroneous reporting as the follow- 
ing, in which newspapers, although they understated rather than exaggerated 
the number of injuries, reported that 6 per cent more whites were injured 
than Negroes, when the fact was that 28 per cent more Negroes were injured 
than whites. 

The Tribune of July 29 in a news item said that before 3 :oo a.m., July 29, 
twenty persons had been killed, of whom thirteen were white and seven colored. 
The truth was that of twenty killed, seven were white and thirteen colored.^ 

' Figures compiled from police reports, state's attorney reports, hospital reports, and 
Olivet Baptist Church reports. 


The Daily News of July 29 gave the starting-point of the riot as the Angelus 
clash, referring to it as " the center of the trouble." The same item mentioned 
the spread to the Stock Yards district. The fact was that the assault upon 
street cars in the Stock Yards district Monday afternoon and rumors of 
further brutalities there helped to start the Angelus riot Monday evening.* 

The Tribune of July 30 stated that "the Black Belt continues to be the 
center of conflict." Up to July 30 the "Black Belt" had witnessed 120 
injuries, while the district west of Wentworth Avenue had had 139. For the 
entire riot period the "Black Belt" furnished 34 per cent of the total number 
of injuries, and the district west of Wentworth Avenue 41 per cent. 

Exaggeration in news reports, when popular excitement is at a high pitch, 
is peculiarly dangerous. For the very reason that the essential fact seems 
authenticated by the simultaneous appearance of the gist of the report in 
several papers, the individual reader is the more inclined to beheve such 
exaggerations as may appear in his favorite journal. 

Cases of exaggeration could be adduced from every Chicago newspaper, 
but a typical one is the report in the Chicago Daily News of July 29 concerning 
the killing of Harold Brignadello, white. This item said: 

Four women and nine men are held at the South Clark Street Station after their 
arrest at 102 1 South State Street, where they had a formidable arsenal. 

Harry Signadell [sic], 35, white, died on the way to St. Luke's Hospital shortly 
before noon after his bullet-riddled body had been picked up by the police in front of 
102 1 South State Street, where a colored woman and 20 other Negroes had barricaded 
themselves and were shooting at aU whites who passed the place. 

Other persons arrested included Kate Elder, 26 years old, who gave her home as 
the State Street address. In all, four women and nine men were made prisoners at 
the raid on the place which was found to be an arsenal for the Negro rioters. Two 
revolvers, two rifles, an axe, several knives, and several hundred rounds of ammuni- 
tion, including 38 and 48 [sic] calibre cartridges, were discovered piled up near the 
window from which the Negroes had been shooting. 

Patrolman John Hayes, of the South Clark Street Station, heard the shots fired 
by the Negroes who were firing from the house and saw the spurts of fire from their 
rifles and revolvers whenever whites ventured to pass the place. An unknown white 
man, a victim of the Negroes' bullets, was found lying on the sidewalk. He was 
rushed to St. Luke's Hospital where he died. 

The facts of this case, as reported by the coroner's jury are as follows: 

.... Harold Brignadello .... came to his death on the 29th day of July, 
A.D. 1919, at St. Luke's Hospital from shock and hemorrhage due to a bullet wound 
in the chest cavity. 

[Note. — "c buUet wound," not "bullet-riddled."] 

We find the deceased while standing at the southwest comer of State and Tay- 
lor ... . was shot and wounded by a buUet fired from the revolver held in the hand 
of one Emma Jackson who was standing at an open window on the second floor of 
the premises at 102 1 South State Street. 

' Testimony before the coroner's jury. 


Testimony shows that just prior to the shooting, said premises had been stoned 
by a mob of white men. 

We, the jury, recommend that the said Emma Jackson, said Kate Elder, said 
John Webb, said Ed. Robinson, and said Clarence Jones be held to the grand jury 
upon a charge of murder until discharged by due process of law. 

[Note. — ^Two women and three men, not "four women and nine men," nor yet 
"a colored woman and 20 other Negroes." They were indicted by the grand jury 
but found not guilty.] 

We believe from the evidence that the poHce have suflficient information as to the 
identity of some of said white men to warrant arrest, and we recommend such action 
be taken. 

[Note. — ^No arrests of men in the white mob were made.] 

The testimony further showed that there were 150 white men in the mob 
grouped in front of 102 1, and four of the men were stoning the house at the 
time Emma Jackson fired into their midst. 

Only one gun was found and no stores of ammunition, instead of "a 
formidable arsenal," or a "barricade" or "an arsenal for Negro rioters," or 
"two revolvers, two rifles, an axe, several knives, and several hundred rounds 
of ammunition, including 38 and 48 [sic] calibre cartridges .... piled up 
near the window from which the Negroes had been shooting." The one gun 
was hidden in a niche in the skylight. 

Following are examples of rumors current during the riot and disseminated 
by the press and by word of mouth, grouped on the basis of the emotions 
which they aroused — vengeful animosity, fear, anger, and horror: 

Daily News, July 30. Subheadline: "Alderman Jos. McDonough Tells 
How He Was Shot at on South Side Visit. Says Enough Ammunition in 
Section to Last for Years of Guerrilla Warfare": 

[Note. — The reference in the headline to the large amount of ammunition 
is repeated in the text, but not elaborated or explained.] 

An alderman in an account of his adventures says the Mayor contemplates open- 
ing up 3Sth and 47th streets in order that colored people might get to their work. He 
thinks this would be most unwise for, he states, "They are armed and the white 
people are not. We must defend ourselves if the city authorities won't protect us." 
Continuing his story, he describes bombs going off, "I saw white men and women 
running through the streets dragging children by the hands and carrying babies in 
their arms. Frightened white men told me the police captains had just rushed 
through the district crying, 'For God's sake, arm. They are coming, we cannot 
hold them.'" 

The point here is not whether the alderman was correctly quoted, but the 
effect on the public of such statements attributed to him. There is no record 
in any of the riot testimony in the coroner's office or in the state's attorney's 
office of any bombs exploded during the riot, nor of police captains warning 
white people to arm, nor of any fear on the part of whites of a Negro invasion. 
In the Berger Odman case before the coroner's jury there is a statement that 


\ t n-R IVK i 




PUBLi. ^ 




a police sergeant warned the Negroes of Ogden Park to arm and to shoot at 

the feet of rioters if they attempted to invade the few blocks marked off for 

Negroes by the police. 

Herald-Examiner, July 28. Subheadline: " Negroes Have Arms " : 

A man whose name is withheld reported to the Herald-Examiner that Negroes 

had more than 2,000 Springfield rifles and an adequate supply of soft-nosed bullets. 

R. R, Jackson, alderman from the second ward, brands the story as untrue. 

This statement is not substantiated. 

Herald-Examiner, July 29: 

Several thousand men stoned the old Eighth Regiment Armory in the heart of 
the riot zone, doors were burst in, and hundreds of guns with ammunition taken by 
the mob. Police rushed to the scene firing into the mob and finally drove it from the 
armory. According to reports more than 50 persons were shot or otherwise injured. 

Refutation of this statement is found in the testimony of Police Captain 
Mullen before the coroner's jury in the Eugene Williams case: 

I received a rumor that the soldiers [referring to Negro soldiers of the Eighth 
Regiment] had gone over to the armory for the sole purpose of breaking in and getting 
rifles. I dispatched two patrol wagons full of men; after arriving there, we found 
out they had been there and broke some windows, but they found out there were 
no weapons in there. 

Another type of fear-provoking rumor current in street crowds reported the 
force and the aggressive plans of the opposing race. Some of these rumors, cur- 
rent among Negro crowds, were to the effect that a white mob was gathering on 
Wentworth Avenue ready to break into the "Black Belt"; that a white mob 
was waiting to break through at Sixtieth and Ada streets; that a white mob 
was ready to advance upon Twenty-seventh and Dearborn streets. The first 
of these rumors had its effect upon the inception of the Angelus riot, and the 
second so aroused the fears of Negroes that when a white mob led by young 
white boys did step over the "dead-line" boundaries established by the police, 
guns were immediately turned upon them, and one of the invaders was killed. 
Of the third rumor, Police Lieutenant Burns said: 

.... an old colored man came to me .... and said that the colored people on 
Dearborn Street in the 2800 block were moving out in fear of a white mob coming 

from across the tracks from across Wentworth Avenue On the southwest 

comer of Twenty-eighth and Dearborn I found a number of colored men standing in 
front of a building there. They had pieces of brick and stone in their pockets and 
were peering around the comer west on Twenty-eighth Street apparently in great fear. 

Among the whites fear was not so prevalent. A fear-producing rumor 
was revealed, however, in the examination of two deputy sheriffs who fired 
on a Negro. The deputies had heard that Negroes were going to burn up 
or blow up factories in the district which they were patrolling. When a dark 
form was seen in an alley, panic seized both deputies, and they emptied their 
revolvers at an innocent Negro who lived in the adjoining house. 


Chief among the anger-provoking rumors were tales of injury done to 
women of the race circulating the rumor. The similarity of the stories and 
their persistence shows extraordinary credulity on the part of the public. For 
the most horrible of these rumors, telHng of the brutal killing of a woman and 
baby (sometimes the story is told of a Negro woman, sometimes of a white) 
there was no foundation in fact. The story was circulated not only by the 
newspapers of both races, but was current always in the crowds on the streets. 
Here is the story as told in the white press: 

Chicago Tribune, July 29: 

There is an account of "two desperate revolver battles fought by the police with 
colored men alleged to have killed two white women and a white child." 

It is reported that policemen saw two Negroes knock down a woman and child 
and kick them. The Negroes ran before the police could reach them. 

Herald-Examiner, July 29: 

Two white women, one of them with a baby in her arms, were attacked and 
wounded by Negro mobs firing on street cars 

A colored woman with a baby in her arms was reported at the Deering Police 
Station, according to this item, to have been attacked by a mob of more than 100 white 
men. When the mob finally fled before the approach of a squad of police both the 
woman and chUd were lying in the street beaten to death, "it is said." 

Daily News, July 29: 

Another man is held at the Stock Yards station charged with the murder of a 
white woman in West 47th Street and Wentworth 

The Negroes, four in number, were arrested at East 39th and Cottage Grove 
Avenue, this afternoon by the detective. They are believed to be the ones who 
seriously wounded Mrs. Margaret Kelley, white woman, at W. 47th and Wentworth. 
She was shot in the back and may die. The names of those under arrest were not 
given out. 

[Note. — "Murder" changed to "seriously injured" in the main story. Mrs. 
Mary KeUy was shot in the arm according to the police report and not in the back.] 

The men arrested for the shooting were Henry Harris and Scott Brown, 
deputy sheriffs, and four others according to the records of the state's attorney. 
Sheriff Peters says of the case, that Harris was charged with shooting someone, 
but when the case came up the charge was dropped. Sheriff Peters was con- 
vinced that Harris was innocent. 

Daily News, July 29. Headline, given place of first importance in the 
pink section: "Women Shot as Riots Grow." Columns 7 and 8 of first-page 
white section are headed, "Attack White Women as Race Riots Grow. Death 
Roster Is 30." 

The item reads: "Race rioters began to attack white women this afternoon 
according to report received at the Detective Bureau and the Stock Yards 
PoUce Station." The article continues, that Swift & Company had not 
received any such reports of attacks on their women employees. But farther 


on the item gives an account of a Swift & Company truck filled with girl 
employees fired upon by Negroes at Forty-seventh Street and the Panhandle 
railroad. The driver was reported killed and several of the girls injured. 

The juxtaposition of "Death roster is 30" and "Attack white women" 
gives a wrong impression. The "several girls injured" at Forty-seventh 
Street evidently refers to the case of Mrs. Mary Kelly. The records of the 
state's attorney's ofiice also show that Josephine Mansfield was supposed to 
have been wounded by Harris, et al., but the charge was dropped. She was 
wounded in the shoulder, according to the police report. 

Daily News, July 30: 

Alderman McDonough described a raid into the white district the night before 
by a carload of colored men who passed Thirty-fifth Street and Wallace "shouting 
and shooting." The gunmen shot down a woman and a little boy who stood close by. 

[Note. — No record of such a case.] 

Here is the " injury done to women " story as it appeared in the Negro press: 

Chicago Defender, August 2 : 

An unidentified young woman and three-months-old baby were found dead on 
the street at the intersection of Forty-seventh and Wentworth. She had attempted 
to board a car there when the mob seized her, beat her, slashed her body to ribbons, 
and beat the baby 's brains out against a telegraph pole. Not satisfied with this one 
rioter severed her breasts and a white youngster bore it aloft on a pole triumphantly 
while the crowd hooted gleefully. The whole time this was happening several police- 
men were in the crowd but did not make any attempt to make a rescue until too late. 

Concerning all of these stories it may be stated that the coroner had no 
cases of deaths of women and children brought before him. There was nothing 
in the police reports or the files of the state's attorney or hospital reports or 
the reports of Olivet Baptist Church, which would give any foundation for 
reports of the killing of a woman and child, white or Negro. 

There were other rumors which had the same anger-producing effect as 
reports of attacks on women. A notable case of this kind was the fatal clash 
at the Angelus, an apartment house for white people at Thirty-fifth Street 
and Wabash Avenue, on Monday, July 28 (see p. 6). The trouble here 
grew from four o'clock in the afternoon until it culminated in the shooting 
at 8:00 P.M. The excitement was stimulated by the rapid spread of various 
rumors. It was said that a white mob was gathering at Thirty-fifth Street 
and Wentworth Avenue, only a few blocks from the colored mob which was 
massed on Thirty-fifth Street from State Street to Wabash Avenue. The 
rumor was that the white men are armed and prepared to "clean up the 
'Black Belt.'" Another rumor had it that a Negro's sister had been killed 
while coming home from the Stock Yards where she worked. Finally came 
the rumor that a white person had fired a shot from the Angelus building, 
wounding a colored boy. The rumor quickly went through the crowd swarming 
around the building, but no one heard or saw the shooting. A search of the 


building disclosed no firearms. Police Sergeant Middleton, Negro, described 
the situation as "everybody trying to tell you something and you couldn't 
get anything." Another Negro policeman said it was "just a rumor that 
went around through the crowd and everybody was saying, 'He shot from 
that window'; I would go to that window and the crowd would say, 'That is 
the window over there.'" 

The anger-provoking power of rumor was seen in the ensuing clash. About 
1,500 Negroes massed on one corner of Thirty-fifth Street and Wabash Avenue, 
and about 100 policemen grouped themselves at the intersection of the two 
streets. At the sight of a brick flying from the Negro mob the police fired a 
volley into the midst of the mob. More shots came quickly from both sides. 
Four Negroes were killed, and many were injured, among both the Negroes 
and the pohce. 

The Angelus rumor appeared as follows in a Negro newspaper, the Chicago 
Defender, August 2: "White occupants of the Angelus apartments began 
firing shots and throwing missiles from their windows. One man was shot 
through the head but before his name could be secured he was spirited away." 

In the case of Joseph Lovings, a Negro killed by an Italian mob, press 
reports that were entirely false tended strongly to provoke the anger of Negro 
mobs. For example: 

Herald-Examiner, July 30: "He had been shot, stabbed and gasoline had 
been thrown on his body which had been set afire. The police extinguished 
the fire and took the body to the County Morgue." 

Tribune, July 30: "This report says that he was stabbed and shot sixteen 
times, then his body saturated with gasoline and set afire." 

The coroner's jury in commenting on this rumor said: "It gives us satis- 
faction to say that this rumor, from our investigation, is false and unsub- 

Among the horror rumors one finds such examples as the story of the white 
man who stood at the entrance to Exchange Avenue and knocked down half 
a dozen Negroes as they came by. This was current in the Stock Yards and 
was told by one of the workers at the inquest on the body of William Dozier, 
Negro, killed in the Yards. Another rumor had it that a Negro woman 
nicknamed "Heavy" had partly slashed off the head of a white man. This 
was picked up by a detective circulating among white people Kving in the 
"Black Belt." 

But chief among horror rumors was the Bubbly Creek rumor, which took 
this form in the press: 

Daily News, July 29. SubheadHne: "Four Bodies in Bubbly Creek." 
The article does not give details but says, " Bodies of four colored men were 
taken today from Bubbly Creek in the Stock Yards district, it is reported." 

This was one of the most persistent rumors of the riot, and intelUgent men 
were found repeating it in half-credulous tones. A meat curer, talking in the 


superintendent's office of Swift & Company, said: "Well, I hear they did 

drag two or three out of Bubbly Creek Dead bodies, that is the report 

that came to the Yards, but personally I never got any positive evidence that 
there was any people who was found there." 

A juror on the coroner's panel said: '* A man told a friend of mine — I can 
furnish the name of that man — a man told him that he saw fifty-six bodies 
taken out of Bubbly Creek. They made a statement they used a net and seine 
to drag them out." 

Mr. Williams, Negro attorney, said he was told that the bodies of 100 
Negroes had been found in Bubbly Creek. 

In its final report, the coroner's jury made this conclusive statement 
regarding the Bubbly Creek rumor: 

Bubbly Creek has been the favorite cemetery for the undiscovered dead, and our 
inquiry has been partly directed to that stream. In our inquiry we have been assisted 
by the Stock Yards officials and workers, by adjacent property owners and residents, 
by private detective bureaus, the Police Department, Department of Health, State's 
Attorney 's office, by observing aind intelligent colored citizens, apd by other agencies, 
and we are firmly of the opinion that these reports, so widely circulated, are erroneous, 
misleading, and without foundation in fact, the race riot victims numbering thirty- 
eight, and no more, nor are there any colored citizens reported to us as missing. 

Rumor, fermenting in mobs, prepares the mob mind for the direct suggestion 
impelling otherwise law-abiding citizens to atrocities. Another more insidious 
and potentially more dangerous result is the slow accumulation of feeling which 
builds between the white and Negro the strongest barrier of race prejudice. 

Police. — There has been much criticism of the manner in which the riot 
was handled by the authorities, but it may be pointed out that the riot was 
not quelled until at least four groups of peace guardians had taken part in 
handling it. The two most important groups were the police and the militia; 
the others were composed of deputy sheriffs and Negro ex-soldiers. 

Testimony before the coroner's jury and in hearings before this Commission 
throws considerable light on the actions of the PoHce Department as a whole 
during the riot, its methods in meeting the unusual situation, and on the 
conduct of individual poHcemen. First-hand information and opinion was 
obtained from Chief of Police Garrity and State's Attorney Hoyne. 

The police had two severe handicaps at the outset of the rioting. The first, 
as declared by Chief Garrity, was lack of sufficient numbers adequately to 
cope with the situation. The coroner's jury found that "the police force 
should be enlarged. It is too small to cope with the needs of Chicago." The 
grand jury added: "The police force is also inadequate in numbers, and 
at least one thousand (1,000) officers should be added to the existing force." 
This number approximates the need urged by Chief Garrity, who, when 
asked before the Commission as to the sufficiency of his force, answered: 
"No. I haven't sufficient force. I haven't got a sufficient force now to 


properly police the city of Chicago by one-third." Militia officers and other 
police ofiicials held the same general opinion. 

The second handicap, distrust of white policemen by all Negroes, while 
impUed and not admitted by Chief Garrity, was frankly explained by State's 
Attorney Hoyne. He said before the Commission: "There is no doubt that a 
great many police officers were grossly unfair in making arrests. They shut 
their eyes to offenses committed by white men while they were very vigorous 
in getting all the colored men they could get." 

Leaders among the Negroes clearly indicate that discrimination in arrest 
was a principal cause of widespread and long-standing distrust. Whether 
justified or not, this feehng was actual and bitter. This distrust had grown 
seriously during the six months preceding the riot because no arrests were 
made in bombing cases. State's Attorney Hoyne said before the commission: 
"I don't know of a single case where the poHce have apprehended any 
man who has blown up a house." 

Charles S. Duke, a well-educated and fair-minded Negro, gave his reaction 
to the bombings when he said that he did not "believe a Negro would have 
been allowed to go unpunished five minutes." Mrs. Clarke, Negro, said her 
house was bombed three times, once while a plain-clothes poHceman was inside 
waiting for bombers, but no arrests were made. One suspect was put under 
surveillance but was not held. 

The trial of the three Negro pohcemen before the Merit Committee of 
the Police Department because they refused to use the "Jim Crow" sleeping- 
quarters in a poHce station doubtless added to race feeling, particularly in 
view of the publicity it received in the "Black Belt." 

Negro distrust of the pohce increased among the Negroes during the 
period of the riot. With each clash a new cause for suspicion seemed to 
spring up. The most striking instance occurred on the first afternoon when 
PoHceman Callahan refused to arrest the white man whom the Negro crowd 
accused of causing the drowning of WiUiams, the Negro boy. This refusal 
has been called the beginning of the jiot because it led to mob violence of grave 
consequences. However that may have been, the fact remains that this 
refusal was heralded broadcast by the Negroes as the kind of action they 
might expect from the poHce. 

Typical of the minor tales which laid the foundation for the Negroes' 
bitterness toward this white policeman are the following: 

1. Kin Lumpkin, Negro, was beaten by a mob on the "L" platform at 
Forty-seventh Street, as he was going home from work. The poUceman 
arrested Lumpkin and had him booked for rioting. No other arrests were 
made. Lumpkin was held from July 28 to August i. 

2. Two pohcemen, one of them Officer McCarty of the Twenty-sixth 
Precinct, witnessed the beating of Wellington Dunmore, Negro, of 4120 
South Campbell Avenue, but, according to the victim, refused to assist him. 






3. John Slovall and brother, Negroes, were beaten and robbed by whites 
in sight of a white poHceman. No arrests were made. The officer did not 
even call for aid. 

4. While looking for his mother at Thirty-first and State streets on Tuesday, 
July 29, Wm. F. Thornton, Negro, 3207 South Park Avenue, asked a poUceman 
to take him home. The officer took him to the poHce station and locked him 
up. Another Negro applied for protection, but the police searched him, 
clubbed him, and when he ran, the sergeant told another policeman to shoot 
him. The policeman obeyed and the man fell under the " L " station. He was 
picked up by the same patrol wagon that took Thornton to the Cottage 
Grove Police Station. The officer, Bundy, arrested Thornton. 

A report on 229 Negroes and whites accused of various criminal activities 
disclosed the fact that 154 were Negroes and seventy-five were whites. The 
state's attorney reported eighty-one indictments against Negroes and forty- 
seven against whites after all riot cases were cleared up. These figures show 
that twice as many Negroes appeared as defendants and twice as many were 
indicted as whites. 

At first glance these figures indicate greater riot activity on the part of 
Negroes, and therefore one would expect to find twice as many whites injured 
as Negroes. But out of a total of 520 injured persons whose race was definitely 
reported, 342 were Negroes and 178 whites. The fact that twice as many 
Negroes appeared as defendants and twice as many were injured as whites sug- 
gests the conclusion that whites were not apprehended as readily as Negroes. 

Herman M. Adler, state criminologist of Illinois, testifying before the 
Commission, expressed the belief that the police showed much more readiness 
to arrest Negroes than whites because the officers thought they were "taking 
fewer chances if they 'soaked' a colored man." 

Negro distrust of police and courts seems to have been confirmed by 
the action of the state's attorney's office in bringing only Negro riot cases 
before the grand jury. This body, however, took a stand for fair play and 
justice for both sides, and though its action may have been novel, it was effect- 
ive. In its final report, the grand jury said: 

This jury has no apology to offer for its attitude with reference to requesting the 
state 's attorney to supply it with information of crimes perpetrated by whites against 
blacks before considering further evidence against blacks. This attitude gave rise 
to the reports in the press that this grand jury "had gone on a strike." As a matter 
of fact, its position was merely a suspension of hearing further cases of crimes com- 
mitted by blacks against whites untU the state's attorney submitted evidence con- 
cerning the various crimes committed by whites against blacks. The reason for this 
attitude arose from a sense of justice on the part of this jury. It is the opinion of 
this jury that the colored people suffered more at the hands of the white hoodlums 
than the white people suffered at the hands of the black hoodlums. Notwithstanding 
this fact, the cases presented to this jury against the blacks far outnumber those 
agamst the whites. 


State's Attorney Hoyne justified this action by saying that the Police 
Department brought in Negroes only, and until they arrested whites, he was 
limited to proceedings against Negroes. 

The coroner's jury on November 3, 1919, reported as follows: 
Our attention was called strikingly to the fact that at the time of race rioting, 
the arrests made for rioting by the police of colored rioters were far in excess of the 
arrests made of white rioters. The failure of the poHce to arrest impartially, at the 
time of rioting, whether from insufficient effort or otherwise, was a mistake and had 
a tendency to further incite and aggravate the colored population. 

This seeming discrimination in arrests naturally deepened Negro distrust 
and lack of confidence in the pohce. Testimony was taken by the Commission 
on the plans and action of the Police Department during the riot period, 
since the Commission felt that the distribution of forces and the methods 
used by the department to meet such an emergency were matters of first 

Chief of Police Garrity testified that there were 3,500 policemen in the 
department at the time of the riot, and that he had " practically every policeman 
in the city of Chicago down there," indicating Thirty-fifth Street and Rhodes 
Avenue as "practically in the heart of the district where the most trouble was." 
The widest distribution from that center, he said, was over an area bounded 
by Lake Michigan, Ashland Avenue, Van Buren Street, and Sixty-ninth Street. 

The heaviest concentration of pohce, however, was in the "Black Belt." 
The Stanton Avenue Police Station at Thirty-fifth Street and Rhodes Avenue 
is at about the center of the most congested Negro residential area. Asked 
how many poHcemen were assigned to that vicinity (the area from Twenty- 
second to Thirty-ninth streets). Chief Garrity said, "We had in the neighbor- 
hood of 2,800 men in that territory." Later the chief said only " the necessary 
sergeants and one or two men at each station were held back for emergency 
calls" in all other parts of the city. This means that four-fifths of the total 
police force was concentrated there. 

Although there is no direct testimony as to the existence of flying squadrons 
of police, yet such bodies appear to have been operating. Probably the most 
important of these was the patrol under Pohce Captain Mullen, who said 
that his territory extended from Twenty-second to Thirty-ninth streets and 
from the lake to the Rock Island tracks, or roughly the "Black Belt." Chief 
Deputy Alcock' sent eighty-eight policemen into this district on Sunday 
afternoon, twenty-five more at midnight, and fifty more on Monday morning. 

In describing the disposition of pohce details, Chief Garrity said: "They 
were routed by him [Alcock] according to conditions existing in different dis- 
tricts. Some districts might have a hundred men in the block and in the 
next block there might be only ten, according to what conditions were." 

I Chief of Police Garrity was out of the city at the time the riot began on Sunday, but 
returned on Monday. 


Forces were moved from one point of disturbance to another by means of 
patrol wagons on request of local commanders. 

The 2,800 policemen in the "Black Belt" were under the command of 
Chief Deputy Alcock with headquarters in the Stanton Avenue Station. He 
"used his discretion in the number of men assigned to the different points 
and the handUng of them in the different territories." 

Riot orders were given by Chief Garrity as follows: "Wherever possible 
suppress the riot and restore peace"; "the second day I ordered a dead line 
on Wentworth Avenue and Twenty-second Street to, I think, Sixty-third 
Street"; "instructions were that 'you will allow no colored people to go across 
to the west and no white people to go across to the east.' " Cabarets, saloons, 
and pubHc places were ordered closed, and all large gatherings of either whites 
or Negroes were prohibited from Van Buren to Sixty-ninth streets and from 
Ashland Avenue to the lake. The chief added, "Closing clubrooms and 
everything in the district west of Wentworth Avenue as well as east of it." 
A general policy was adopted of search and seizure of persons suspected of 
carrying weapons on the street, and of houses from which firing came. Captain 
Mullen testified before the coroner's jury at the Eugene Williams inquest 
that on July 29 Chief Deputy Alcock lined up the poHcemen in front of the 
Stanton Avenue Station and gave them their orders. They were told to 
"preserve the peace; that was all." 

Police records of clashes were incomplete and often inaccurate. This 
was in part due, and naturally so, to the stress of the moment. In many 
cases the station hsts of injured were far from complete and in few instances 
were the names of witnesses given. Even the dates and hours of clashes were 
loosely recorded. Persons arrested were frequently not booked at all, while 
on the other hand it was not uncommon to find innocent persons charged 
with serious offenses. Henry Scholz, policeman of the Twenty-sixth Precinct, 
threw much light on police records while being examined in connection with 
certain automobile arrests: 

They were all discharged, booked for "disorderly," because we couldn't find 
the guns in the mix-up. It was the first or second day down there and they were 
bringing them in right and left, and I suppose in the mix-up they mislaid the guns, 
or put them away somewhere, or booked them to someone else. We held them 
about a week trying to find the guns and trying to find the ofiicers that got the guns. 

It is important to know how the distribution and routing of pohce affected 
the general riot situation. As already shown four-fifths of the police forces 
were concentrated in the "Black Belt." This undoubtedly both weakened 
poHce forces elsewhere and also prevented or delayed reinforcements in outside 
districts. Only 34 per cent of the total number of reported injuries occurred 
in the area of concentration. Negro hatred of the pohce is worth mentioning 
again here, especially since many of the deaths and injuries occurred during 
clashes between white policemen and Negro mobs. 


That other districts where danger existed were poorly protected is shown 
by the fact that fatal clashes occurred there without interruption by the 
police. The most conspicuous case is noted in the "Loop" atrocities on July 
29, where two Negroes, Hardwick and Williams, were killed, several were 
injured and robbed, and business property of whites was damaged. A police 
sergeant said that only three officers and one sergeant were in the district 
on the night of July 28-29. In the Stock Yards district, where 41 per cent 
of the injuries and several deaths occurred, there is no record of an attempt by 
the police to increase the riot forces. In this district gang raids by whites 
were practically beyond control. On July 28 B. F. Hardy, a Negro, was 
killed at Forty-sixth Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. Sergeant Clancy 
later testified that there were no policemen in this district until after the 
trouble. The foreman of the grand jury investigated the activities of the 
Deering Street Station under Pohce Captain Gallery. He says: "They 
didn't have a sufficient number of policemen to handle the situation. If I 
remember correctly, he had eight patrolmen covering a district of any number 
of square miles." 

In spite of the concentration of police in the "Black Belt" some parts of 
that area seem at times not to have been properly guarded. Several serious 
clashes occurred there after the poHce arrived in force. Theodore Copling, 
Negro, was shot to death at Thirtieth and State streets in the heart of the 
"Black Belt" on July 30. This had been a riotous corner for three days, 
yet no policemen were at hand. The nearest was a detective sergeant on 
Twenty-ninth Street between Federal and State streets. Samuel Banks, 
Negro, was shot and killed near the corner of Twenty-seventh and Dearborn 
streets on July 30 at 1 1 : 00 p.m., yet Lieutenant Burns, in charge of this district, 
testified at the inquest that twelve to fourteen officers were at Twenty-seventh 
and Dearborn streets immediately before the shooting. 

It was undoubtedly the relatively large number of clashes which the 
pohce were unable to prevent that led the coroner's jury to recommend that 
" (6) there should be organization of the force for riot work for the purpose 
of controlling rioting in its incipient stages." 

The conduct of individual pohcemen received much adverse criticism from 
the Negroes. This was to be expected in the circumstances, but disregarding 
the general prejudice of which white officers were accused, certain cases of 
discrimination, abuse, brutahty, indifference, and neglect on the part of 
individuals are deserving of examination. 

Abusive and brutal treatment was complained of by Horace Jennings, 
3422 South Aberdeen Street. He reported to the state's attorney's office that 
Pohceman G — , of the Grand Crossing Station, approached him, as he lay 
wounded by a mob attack, with the words, "Where's your gun, you black 

of a — — ? You damn niggers are raising hell"; that the officer hit him 

on the head, and he did not regain consciousness until some time later in the 


B urnside Hospital; and he further charged that Gallagher took a purse contain- 
ing $13 when he searched him. 

Three Negroes were rescued by the police from a white mob of twenty-five 
or thirty men. Scott, one of the Negroes, was taken from the street car on which 
all three were riding, by the command of a policeman to "come out of there, 
you big rusty brute, you. I ought to shoot you," and was given a blow on 
the head. According to a witness he was again struck by the policeman 
as he was pushed into the patrol wagon. He was subjected to rough treatment 
at the jail and was kept incommunicado from July 28 to August 4, not being 
permitted to notify his wife or an attorney. None of the twenty-five or 
thirty white rioters was arrested. There was some evidence of fear on the 
part of the poKce to arrest rioting whites. 

Fear by poHcemen of Negroes is also disclosed. George Crumm, white, 
124 East Forty-sixth Street, informed the state's attorney's office that he 
was beaten by a Negro mob, got police assistance, and pointed out the rioters, 
but the pohce "didn't seem to want to interfere any." 

On several occasions policemen left the scene of riots on questionable 
excuses while the rioting was in progress. Of the three mounted policemen 
at Thirty-fifth Street and Wabash Avenue who rushed to the spot where a 
mob was attacking Otterson, two accompanied the automobile of Otterson 
to the hospital. The mob was not quelled or dispersed. When the house of 
Wilham O'Deneal, Negro, 4742 Wells Street, was attacked, the pohce took 
O'Deneal to the station and left the mob to sack and burn his house. At the 
kilhng of Wilham Dozier, Negro, all three pohce officers who responded to 
notice of an attack by a white mob of 300 or more, left in the same patrol 
wagon. The names of witnesses were not taken. It was the custom for all 
to accompany the wagon, according to Officer McDonough. 

Pohtical "pull" exercised with the pohce on behalf of rioters has been 
indicated. It was noted that one of "Ragen's Colts" said an officer of the 
Stock Yards Station "tipped them off" to stay away from their club because 
Attorney General Brundage's office was out investigating them. 

Indifference both to extreme lawlessness during the riot and to the procedure 
of the inquest marked the examination of Captain of Police Mullen before the 
coroner's jury. He was in command of twelve mounted men and between 
sixty-three and 100 men on foot at Thirty-fifth Street and Wabash Avenue 
when a clash between the police and a Negro mob occurred. While it appears 
to be the fact that he left just before the heavy firing to telephone from a saloon 
one block away, yet the building he was in was struck by bullets. The follow- 
ing excerpt from the inquest speaks for itself: 

Q.: What time did the shooting take place at the building known as the 
Angelus Building ? What time did that occur ? Was there any shooting at that 
buUding ? 

Mullen: Not that I heard. 


Q.: Had there been any shooting done there that evening around .... before 
you left ? 

Mullen: Not to my knowledge. 

Q.: When was the shooting done, and where were you ? 

Mullen: What do you mean shooting ? 

Three men were killed and many injured at Thirty-fifth Street and Wabash 
Avenue at this time. Firing broke out near-by almost immediately. 

Q.: There were some shots fired at Thirty-fifth and State, Captain, at eight that 
night, right after the volley was fired, we have absolute evidence. 

Mullen: Well, you may have, but I have not. 

Yet Captain Mullen was in command of the police who killed two more 
men and inflicted other wounds when the Negroes ran before the police 

Militia. — The rapid growth of the riot both in violence and territorially 
created such alarm among the authorities and the public that the question of 
its control became a matter of paramount concern to the community. Before 
twenty-four hours had elapsed requests were made to the local authorities 
for the militia. The representations were based on insufliciency of police 
forces and were strongly urged before the chief of police. 

Chief Garrity steadily refused to ask for troops, in spite of his repeated 
statement that the police force was insuSicient. He gave as his reason the 
belief that inexperienced militiamen would add to the deaths and disorders. 
Mayor Thompson supported the chief's refusal until outside pressure compelled 
him to ask the governor for aid. On the other hand the chief deputy of police 
was quoted by State's Attorney Hoyne as having said at the outbreak of the 
riot that the police would not be able to handle the situation, and that troops 
were needed. In this he was supported by Mr. HoAme. From observation 
of conditions on the first three days of the riot, the chief of staff of the troops, 
Colonel Ronayne, concluded that the police were insufficient in numbers, 
that no improvement was apparent in the general situation, and that therefore 
the troops were necessary. He saw no reason, however, for putting the city 
under martial law. Other military men were of the same opinion. 

During all of this time Governor Lowden kept in close touch with the 
situation from his quarters at the Blackstone Hotel. When the riot appeared 
to be subsiding he started to keep an appointment out of town but, on hearing 
that there was a renewal of violence, returned to the city on a special train. 
When the request was made for the active co-operation of the troops he acted 
with promptness. 

The troops themselves were clearly of high caliber. For the most part 
they were in home service during the war and were older men than are ordina- 
rily found in militia organizations. They "usually came from the higher 
type of business men, men of affairs, men that knew how to think," as one of 
their commanding officers described them. They were all American-born. 







^■' . ■ ■■'■ 

's^ .r 


The militia discipline was of the best. Not a single case of breach of 
discipline was reported to the regimental commanders. No guardhouse 
was necessary during the riot, a remarkable commentary on troop conduct. 

The militia had been given special drills in the suppression of riots and 
insurrections for a year and a half previous to this occasion, and were, in the 
estimation of their commanding officer, "probably better prepared for riot 
drill than any troops ever put on duty in the state." 

The activities of the militia did not begin as early as many citizens wished. 
Though troops began to mobilize in the armories on Monday night, July 28, 
they were not called to actual duty on the streets until 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, 
July 30. When called to active duty they were distributed in the areas of 
conflict. Between 5,000 and 6,000 troops were called out. This number was 
made up entirely of white troops from the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infantry, 
Illinois National Guard, and from the First, Second, Third, and Fourth 
Reserve Militia regiments of the mihtia. Colored troops who had composed 
the Eighth Regiment were not reorganized at that time, and therefore none 

Distribution of troops was determined not by the militia command but 
by the police, because the city was not under martial law, the civil authority 
being merely insufficient, not broken. The Third Infantry covered the 
territory from Thirty-first to Thirty-eighth streets and from State to Halsted 
streets; Eleventh Infantry from Thirty-ninth to Forty-seventh streets, and 
from State to Halsted streets; Tenth Infantry from Forty-eighth to Fifty-fifth 
streets (later extended to Sixty-third Street by details from the First Infantry), 
and from Cottage Grove to Stewart avenues. The First, Fourth, and Ninth 
Infantry were held in reserve. Detachments responded to calls from the chief 
of police in districts outside these areas. Headquarters for the commanding 
general and his chief of staff were in the Congress Hotel at the northern bound- 
ary of the riot zone. 

The orders under which the militia operated did not have the authority 
of martial law. The purpose of the orders was to effect a thorough co-operation 
with the police only, and not to take over any duties other than the preservation 
of law and order. Except in this respect, civilian routine remained undisturbed. 
The method of co-operation put the commanding officer of a regiment in 
absolute control, within the limits above described, in his district. The 
police reduced their number to normal requirements by removing their reserves 
as soon as the militia moved in. The patrolmen then went about on ordinary 
duties in the districts. Persons arrested by the militia were turned over to 
the police. 

Responsibility for the preservation of law and order rested on the regi- 
mental commanders. Careful instructions were given troops for preventing 
violence : they were to act as soldiers in a gentlemanly manner ; they were fur- 
nished with arms to enable them to perform their duties; they were to use the 


arms only when necessary; they were to use bayonet and butt in preference 
to firing, but if the situation demanded shooting, they were not to hesitate 
to deliver an effective fire. Above all, the formation of mobs was to be prevented . 

The manner in which the miUtia was received by various elements in the 
communities where stationed is illimiinating. Police ofi&cers were glad that 
the troops came to reheve them. Two policemen on duty with a patrol 
exclaimed, when they heard the militia had come in force, "Thank God! 
We can't stand up under this much longer!" The police at Cottage Grove 
Avenue said, "We are tickled to death to see you fellows come in; you have 
never looked so good to us before! " A regimental commander said his organi- 
zation was "welcomed into the zone, of course, by everybody, and I'd say 
especially by the colored people." A similar report came from another 
regimental commander. 

But there was some show of hostihty to the troops. Hoodlums fired on 
some detachments when they first came in, and Colonel Bolte reported a 
hatred for the troops by "the Hamburg Athletic Club, the Ragen's, and the 
Emeralds, and a whole bunch of them over there who didn't like to be con- 
trolled!" Volunteer ex-service men with no legal status, but who aided the 
police at the time, and deputy sheriffs with overseas training ridiculed the 
mihtia with such taunts as, "Tin soldiers!" The effect of this attitude on 
the populace necessitated the arrest of some disturbers and the removal of 
unauthorized persons from the streets. 

It is a singular fact that militia activities were principally against gangs 
of hoodlums, and the majority of these gangs were composed of white youths. 
Said one commander, "Rowdies of the white population tried to get through 
the Hues and had to be arrested." "At one time a heavy truck or two loaded 
with white gangsters attempted to break through the militia but was checked." 
Plenty of trouble "with the Ragen's and other similar organizations" was 
reported by yet another commander. 

The mihtia unquestionably prevented mob formations, raids, and "snip- 
ing." They checked marauders still in search of prey. In many cases they 
prevented the initial moves of lawlessness by taking stations at critical points 
long before raiders arrived. 

There was a marked contrast between the militia and the poUce. The 
troops were under definite orders; commanders had absolute control of their 
forces and knew at all times where and how many effectives were available. 
Precision and promptness of movement was the rule. Reserves were always 
at hand. Disciphne was always good. Only one person, a white man, was 
killed by the troops. Whatever other restraining causes contributed, it is 
certain that the riot was not revived after the troops were posted. 

Most of the troops were withdrawn on August 8. 

Volunteers. — Many Negro ex-service men, formerly members of the old 
Eighth Regiment (Negro) of the lUinois National Guard, donned their uni- 


forms, armed, and offered their services to the police and militia. The militia 
on duty found that these Negro volunteers had no authority or military status 
and consequently ordered them to disband, which they did. 

Before the troops were called out, however, a determined effort was made 
by one Britton, white police reserve, to organize ex-soldiers for volunteer 
service. He said as many as thirty-five joined him. They were denied permits 
to carry weapons but are reported to have done so. It was these men who 
used an automobile, driven v/ith the mufflers open, to clear the streets. 

Evidence of the use of liquor was noticed among these men during their 
active period. Some were involved in the killing of Samuel Banks, Negro; 
some in the robbery of a restaurant and in misdeeds of a minor character. 
Following the implication of individuals among them in these crimes, numbers 
of the ex-soldiers were arrested by the police, but were released by order of 
Chief Garrity on account of the assistance many of them had rendered the 
department and because of representations of business men who felt that 
the arrests were unjust. 

Deputy sheriffs. — In addition to police, miHtiamen, and volunteers, another 
group composed of specially recruited deputy sheriffs, appeared in the riot 
zone as preservers of the peace. They were sworn in by Sheriff Peters, of Cook 
County, after citizens had appealed to him, he said, to quell the riot. In regard 
to their formation, numbers, orders, and duties, the sheriff had this to say: 

I advertised for ex-service men to serve as deputy sheriffs. A thousand or more 
applied. They were all men who had returned from the war and were out of work. 
I hired 500 of them, kept them in the army uniforms, and instructed them to shoot 
to kiU any disturbers or rioters. The presence of these men and the show of authority 
thereby made was effective, and the riot was quelled. 

Fifteen thousand dollars was spent on this force. 

It appears that these deputies came on the scene toward the end of the 
riot week and at once fell into disfavor with the militia, whom they ridiculed 
as "tin soldiers" in much the same manner as did the volunteers. Two regi- 
mental commanders of mihtia said the special deputies "did not behave in a 
very pleasant manner" and "in the majority of instances were no good." 
The sheriff was notified to call them in and they soon disappeared. There is 
no record of organized methods of procedure or of their activities. 

Restoration of order. — Long before actual hostihties ceased, and even 
before the arrival of the militia, various agencies, in addition to the police, 
were at work trying to hold lawlessness in check and restore order. Efforts 
of citizens of both races helped greatly in bringing about peace. As long as 
the rioting was in progress thousands of Negroes were cut off from their employ- 
ment. The Stock Yards workers especially were affected, since Negroes 
Hving east of Wentworth Avenue would have been forced to go to work on 
foot through the district in which the worst rioting occurred. The hostilities 
also cut off the food supply in the main riot areas. The dealers in the "Black 


Belt," principally Jewish merchants, became alarmed lest temporary lack 
of funds due to the separation from work and wages should lead Negroes to 
loot their stores. 

On August I, the various packing companies made the unpaid wages of 
Negro employees available for them by establishing pay stations at the Chicago 
Urban League at 3032 Wabash Avenue, the Wabash Avenue Young Men's 
Christian Association at 3763 Wabash Avenue, the South Side Community 
Service House at 3201 South Wabash Avenue, and the Binga State Bank, 
Thirty-eighth and State streets. Approximately 6,000 employees were paid 
in this way. Banks within the district made small temporary loans to stranded 
persons, sometimes without security. The cashier of the Franklin State 
Bank at Thirty-fifth Street and Michigan Avenue said that he had made 
loans of more than $200 to Negroes in sums of $2 and $3 on their simple promise 
to pay, and that every dollar had been repaid. 

All the local newspapers in their editorial columns took a vigorous stand 
against disorder, urged the people to be calm and avoid crowds, and were 
insistent that those responsible for rioting should be brought to justice. The 
Tribune, for example, published editorials under the following captions: 
" Regain Order and Keep It," " Sane Men and Rioters, " " This Is No Hohday," 
"The Facts of the Riot," and "Penalties for Rioters." All of these articles 
were calm appeals for tolerance, sanity, and dispassionate inquiry for the 
facts. The Evening American, in an editorial entitled "This Is Chicago's 
Crisis; Keep a Cool Head," said: 

Chicago is facing its crisis today. 

In one great section of the city law and order for the time being seem to have been 
flung to the four winds. White men and colored men are shooting one another down 
in the streets for no earthly cause except that the color of their faces differs. 

These mobs are not representative of whites or blacks. They are the hoodlums 
of both races. But the law abiding whites and blacks are innocent victims. 

Hotheads and smoking gun barrels have almost wrested the rule from the keepers 
of the peace. 

It is worse than a calamity, this race rioting. It is a deadly, ghastly scourge, a 
dire contagion that is sweeping through a coramunity for no reason except that mob 
violence is contagious. 

It is up to the cool-headed men of Chicago to settle the great difficulty. It is up 
to the serious-minded business men of the city to get together and find a solution to a 
problem which has become so serious. 

To meet violence with violence is but making matters worse. Gun toting at a 
time like this only adds fuel to the fire already raging. 

Reason is the solution. It is mightier than the sLx-gun. How it is to be exerted 
is for the level-headed citizenry to decide, and decide at once. 

Hardly an hour passes that more names are not added to the already long list of 
slain in the South Side rioting. 

There is no time to be lost. Other matters must be put aside for the moment 
and a solution reached for Chicago 's greatest problem. 


Photograph taken at temporarj- pay station cstablishuil at the- V.Al.C.A. by packing companies 



, .. iO'jNDATIONS 


Labor unions also took a hand in the efforts toward peace. Unionists of 
both races were exhorted to co-operate in bringing about harmonious relations, 
and meetings for this purpose were planned by trade-union leaders, as 
described in the section of this report dealing with the Negro in industry. 
Probably the most effective effort of union labor was the following article 
in the New Majority, the organ of the Chicago Federation of Labor, promi- 
nently displayed: 

For White Union Men to Read 

Let any white union worker who has ever been on strike where gunmen or machine 
gun have been brought in and turned on him and his fellows search his memory and 
recall how he felt. In this critical moment let every union man remember the tactics 
of the boss in a strike when he tries by shooting to terrorize striking workers into 
violence to protect themselves. 

Well, that is how the Negroes feel. They are panic-stricken over the prospect of 
being killed. 

A heavy responsibility rests on the white portion of the community to stop 
assault on Negroes by white men. Violence against them is not the way to solve the 
vexed race problem. 

This responsibility rests particularly heavy upon the white men and women of 
organized labor, not because they had anything to do with starting the present 
trouble, but because of their advantageous position to help end it. Right now it is 
going to be decided whether the colored workers are to continue to come into the 
labor movement or whether they are going to feel that they have been abandoned by 
it and lose confidence in it. 

It is a critical time for Chicago. 

It is a critical time for organized labor. 

All the influence of the unions should be exerted on the community to protect 
colored fellow-workers from the unreasoning frenzy of race prejudice. Indications 
of the past have been that organized labor has gone further in eliminating race hatred 
than any other class. It is up against the acid test now to show whether this is so. 

Various social agencies took steps to help in the emergency and restore 
order. The American Red Cross has a branch at Thirty-fifth Street and 
Michigan Avenue. As soon as the rioting became serious a special relief 
headquarters was established here, and food was distributed to needy families 
cut off from work. The Urban League was used as a headquarters for the 
distribution of food. 

The Urban League had for several years, through its employment bureau, 
handled a large proportion of the city's Negro labor supply and was conversant 
with difficulties likely to result from the rioting. It made food surveys of 
the entire Negro area, printed and distributed thousands of circulars and 
dodgers urging Negroes to stay off the streets, refrain from dangerous discus- 
sions of the riot, and co-operate with the police in every way to maintain order. 
The League sent telegrams to the governor and mayor suggesting plans for 


curbing disorder, organized committees of citizens to aid the authorities in re- 
storing order, and served as a bureau of information and medium of commu- 
nication between the white and Negro groups during the worst hostihties. 

The Young Men's Christian Association was similarly active within the 
area of its efforts. Religious bodies, ministers' associations, and individual 
ministers exerted their influence over their respective groups by advis- 
ing the citizens to "keep cool," "hold their heads," and generally to let 
the authorities settle the riot. Negro business men and one Negro alder- 
man sent wagons through the streets bearing large signs which advised 
Negroes not to congregate on streets, engage in arguments, or partici- 
pate in any way in the disorders. The signs further stated that people would 
be advised when it would be safe to return to work. Other persons went about 
speaking on street corners urging co-operation with the police and militia. 
Appeals by officials and leading citizens were published in the white and Negro 
papers, carrying similar advice. During the riot a committee of citizens 
representing forty-eight social, civic, commercial, and professional organiza- 
tions met at the Union League Club and petitioned the governor to take 
steps to quiet the existing disorder and appoint a commission to study the 
situation with a view to preventing a repetition of it. As a result of this appeal 
followed by similar urgings by many committees, the present Chicago Commis- 
sion on Race Relations was appointed and began its work. 

Aftermath of the riot.— Alter the restoration of order community activities 
were superficially the same as before the riot, but under the surface there 
remained a deepened bitterness of race feeling which spread far beyond the 
time and territorial limits of the riot itself. 

All the deep-seated causes of friction which had developed so largely 
from the failure to work out an adjustment of the increased Negro population 
due to the migration were and are still present, undiminished in influence. 
Consciousness of racial difference and more or less unconscious fear and distrust 
were increased and spread by the riot. Among the whites this was evidenced 
by the general belief that Negroes were gathering stores of arms and ammuni- 
tion. Among the Negroes a growing race solidarity has been marked. There is 
a greater lack of confidence in the white man's law and machinery of protection. 
Continued bombings of Negro houses in mixed areas and failure to apprehend 
the culprits no doubt strengthen this attitude. 

Reports of various Negro gatherings held soon after the riot show this 
to be the case. Many Negroes frankly urged their brothers that they must 
arm themselves and fight if attacked. At one meeting a Negro is reported 
to have said: 

The recent race riots have done at least one thing for the colored race. In the 
past we Negroes have failed to appreciate what solidarity means. We have, on the 
contrary, been much divided. Since the riot we are getting together and devising 
ways and means of protecting our interests. The recent race riots have convinced 


us that we must take steps to protect ourselves. Never again will we be found unpre- 
pared. It is the duty of every man here to provide himself with guns and ammunition. 
I, myself, have at least one gun and at least enough ammunition to make it useful. 

The riot furnished the gang and hoodlum element a chance to indulge in 
lawlessness. Fear of death and injury may help to hold that element in check. 
But it cannot be argued that fear of punishment is much of a factor, for very 
few convictions of rioters were secured. 

Quick justice would have been a salutary means of curbing tendencies to 
riot, according to both the coroner's jury and the grand jury. The coroner's 
jury said: "One remedy for race rioting is a speedy conviction and punishment 
of those guilty, regardless of race or color, giving all concerned a fair and 
impartial hearing." Its eighth recommendation reads: "Above all, a strict 
enforcement of the law by public officials, fair and impartial, will do more 
than any other agency in restoring the good name of Chicago, and prevent 
rioting from any cause from again disturbing the peace of our city." 

The August, 1919, grand jury said: "This jury feels that in order to allay 
further race prejudice and to prevent the re-enactment of shameful crimes 
committed during the recent riots, efficient, prompt, and fearless justice on 
the part of the judiciary be meted out to the guilty ones, whether they be white 
or black." 

In a fair consideration of whether swift and impartial justice was meted 
out, it must be noted that it was extremely hard to secure evidence sufficient 
for successful prosecution. PoHce attention upon arriving at the scene of a 
clash was directed more to removing the injured than apprehending the 
guilty. Where attempts were made to search out the offenders, it was next 
to impossible to get results on account of the keen race consciousness which 
made Negroes disclaim knowledge of Negro culprits and white people deny 
seeing specific white men act aggressively. Many of the crowds were neighbor- 
hood gatherings and leaders were often the sons of neighbors. 

In most of the riot cases brought before the state's attorney's office the 
same difficulty was experienced. Whole blocks of residents were subpoenaed 
and accurately described the assaults, but failed entirely to recognize any of 
the assailants. The grand jury found the same obstacle. The foreman, 
referring to the kind of testimony brought before that body by Negroes on 
complaints against whites, said: " . . . . they [the grand jury] usually found 
it to be hearsay testimony. Some other individual told them about So-and-So. 
That a crime had been committted there was no question, but to get at the 
root of it was absolutely impossible." 

In spite of these difficulties, those familiar with the riot situation believe 
that more arrests of active rioters might have been made and more convictions 
obtained. A study of the riot deaths shows that justice failed to be as swift 
and sure as the coroner's and grand juries recommended. The blame for 
this failure is variously placed on the police, state's attorney, judge, or jury. 



according to the prejudice of the one attempting to fix blame, or his connection 
with any of these agencies. The fact remains that the punitive results of the 
legal processes were too negligible to furnish a proper deterrent to future 

Of the thirty-eight persons whose death constituted the riot's principal 

Fifteen met death at the hands of mobs. The coroners' jury recommended 
that the members of the unknown mobs be apprehended. None were ever 

Six were killed under circumstances establishing no criminal responsibility: 
three white men were killed by Negroes in self-defense, and three Negroes 
were shot by policemen in the discharge of their duty. 

Four Negroes lost their lives in the Angelus riot. The coroner made no 
recommendations, and the cases were not carried farther. 

Four cases— two Negro and two white^ — led to recommendations from the 
coroner's jury for further investigation of certain persons, but sufficient 
evidence was lacking for indictments. 

Nine cases resulted in indictments, four of which led to convictions. 

Thus in only four cases was criminal responsibility for death fixed and 
punishment meted out to the guilty. 

Indictments and convictions are divided according to the race of the 
persons criminally involved as follows: 
















*For brief description of cases see Appendix. 

There is evidence that the riot of 1919 aroused many citizens of both races 
to a quickened sense of the suffering and disgrace which had come and might 
come again to the community, and developed a determination to prevent a 
recurrence of so disastrous an outbreak of race hatred. This was manifest, 
as another section of this report shows, in the courage and control which people 
of both races displayed on at least two occasions in 1920 when confronted 
suddenly with events out of which serious riots might easily have grown. 

This examination of the facts of the riot reveals certain outstanding 
features, as follows: 

1. The riot violence was not continuous, hour by hour, but was inter- 

2. The greatest number of injuries occurred in the district west of Went- 
worth Avenue, inclusive of Wentworth, and south of the Chicago River to 

"Hil ^^ 




part solve the difficulty. We believe voluntary segregation would follow and to a 
considerable extent remove one cause of unrest. 

This is a matter that might well be considered by the Real Estate Board and by 
improvement clubs and organizations of property owners in the South Division, and 
by the Health Department. 

3. In regard to the "athletic clubs": Properly governed and controlled they 
should be encouraged and fostered and, when necessary, disciplined. 

4. Hoodlumism evokes this comment: Citizens of Chicago, make your hoodlum 
element amenable to law, break up and destroy hoodlumism as you would a pestilence. 
It is our belief that this element can be brought under control of the law, and it must 
be done if we are to remove the danger of rioting from any cause. Vicious hoodlum- 
ism, entirely aside from race hatred, was present in practically aU of the thirty-eight 
killings, known as race riots. 

5. We earnestly urge that fathers and mothers teach their children the lesson 
of remaining at home when rioting occurs, and furthermore, they should be kept 
occupied, as idleness and bad association often cause young people to become bad 
men and women. 

6. One remedy for race rioting is a speedy conviction and punishment of those 
guilty, regardless of race or color, giving all concerned a fair and impartial hearing. 

7. Tolerance must be practiced between both white and colored in the discussion 
of the race problem, practiced in our everyday intercourse, in public conveyances, 
and in meetings of all kinds. 

8. Our attention was called strikingly to the fact that at the time of race rioting 
the arrests made for rioting by the police of colored rioters were far in excess of the 
arrests made of white rioters. The failure of the police to arrest impartially at the 
time of rioting, whether from insufficient effort or otherwise, was a mistake and had a 
tendency to further incite and aggravate the colored population. 

9. In cases of murder it is of the utmost importance that expert criminologists 
should arrive on the scene at the earliest possible moment, and that a complete exami- 
nation may be made of the scene of the murder before the body is removed or handled, 
and whUe the necessary evidence for conviction may be obtained, which otherwise 
may be lost or destroyed. We have found in the riot cases many instances where the 
removal of bodies by inexperienced men, in some cases police officers, destroyed 
valuable evidence. 

We heartily concur with Coroner Hoffman as to the fact that Chicago badly needs 
a permanent murder- investigation squad, which the coroner planned and has so 
persistently advocated in the past. We believe that this squad should be equipped 
with motor vehicles and subject to call at any hour of the day or night. This squad 
should consist of six or more trained policemen, working in relays of eight hours, a 
photographer, a finger-print expert, a coroner's physician and chemist, the coroner or 
deputy coroner, and a state's attorney. In addition thereto, two trained policemen 
from the police department precinct wherein the murder occurred, and a representative 
of the City News Bureau. This squad should be available for immediate service, and 
it should be the duty of the police at the scene of the murder to allow no one to handle 
the body or enter premises where murder occurred untU the arrival of the squad. 

10. The police force should be enlarged. It is too small to cope with the needs 
of Chicago, and under the present living conditions the policeman 's pay is entirely 
inadequate and should be substantially increased. 


Superannuated and incapacitated members of the police force should be retired 
under a proper and satisfactory pension system. 

There should be organization of the force for riot work, for the purpose of control- 
ling rioting in its incipient stages. 


1. It is reasonable to believe that the colored people, if provided with proper 
housing facilities and an area sufficient in extent, would voluntarily segregate them- 
selves. The present neighborhood known as the "Black Belt" could, by reasonable 
public improvement, assisted by our leading public citizens, be made a decent place 
to live in for a much larger population than it now accommodates This move- 
ment should enlist the financial and moral support of the industries employing large 
numbers of the black race. 

2. Facilities for bathing, playgrounds, police protection, better housing and 
neighborhood conditions, are matters deserving the earnest attention of the proper 

3. The employment of the colored people is imperative to the welfare of this com- 
munity. Discriminating against the Negro, or, in other words, failure to give him an 
opportunity to make an honest livehhood after having induced him to migrate to 
this section of the country, simply adds to the already far too great number of hood- 
lums that infest our city. 

4. This jury feels that in order to aUay further race prejudice and to prevent 
the re-enactment of shameful crimes committed during the recent riots, efficient 
prompt, and fearless justice on the part of the law-enforcing officers, as well as on 
the part of the judiciary, be meted out to the guilty ones, whether they be white or 

5 There is a lack of co-operation and harmony among the agencies of law 

enforcement, which impairs their efficiency, leads to miscarriages of justice, and wastes 
the public funds. 

6. The parole law should be amended so that a criminal once paroled and sub- 
sequently arrested may not a second time be paroled. 

7. The efficiency of the police force would be further greatly increased by the 
co-operation of the judiciary in refusing to grant wholesale continuances without 
carefully scrutinizing the results thereof when members of the police force are required 
to act as witnesses. 

8. The police department is in need of a thorough house-cleaning. Every officer, 
no matter what his position is, who fails in his fuU duty should be dismissed. Graft- 
ers and those who allow themselves to be dominated by pohtical influences, who are 
paid to protect the lives and property of our citizens, should be dismissed and punished 
to the fullest extent of the law. 

9. It is the opinion of this jury that the pohce force is also inadequate in munbers, 
and at least one thousand (1,000) officers should be added to the existing force. 

10. Policemen who have arrived at the age where their usefulness is a matter 
of the past should be pensioned, notwithstanding their present nmnber, and not- 
withstanding the fact that the pension fund is already taxed to its utmost. The 
needed funds for this purpose should be provided. 

II payment of salaries to public officers commensurate with the increased 

cost of living. 


12. The authorities employed to enforce the law should thoroughly investigate 
clubs and other organizations posing as athletic and social clubs which really are 
organizations of hoodlums and criminals formed for the purpose of furthering the 
interest of local poUtics. 

13. The jury also finds that vice of aU kinds is rampant in the "Black Belt," and 
a thorough cleaning up of that district is absolutely essential to the peace and welfare 
of the community. 

14. Pohtical influence to a large extent is responsible for the brazenness with 
which the Chicago bum, pickpocket, and gun and hold-up man operates. It is also 
the opinion of the jury that the indeterminate-sentence law frequently operates in a 
miscarriage of justice, and it is our opmion that the court should fix the sentence of 
offenders at the time of their conviction. 

15. Because of the large number of young boys involved in the rioting, the jury 
recommends the resumption of the activities of the Y.M.C.A., the Knights of Colum- 
bus, and Salvation Army, as well as other similar organizations 


I. Minor Clashes in and near Chicago 


The race riot of 1919 in Chicago was preceded by a long series of more 
or less serious clashes between whites and Negroes. Some of these are discussed 
in the section of this report dealing with contacts in recreation. Others are 
here described to show the development of friction and conflict leading up to 
the 1919 riot. Two brutal and unprovoked murders of Negroes by gangs 
of white hoodlums preceded the riot by only a few weeks. 

In many of the antecedent clashes a conspicuous part was played by gangs 
or clubs of white boys and yoimg men. These operations frequently showed 
organization, and the gangsters were often armed with brass knuckles, clubs, 
and revolvers. 

Some of the earlier clashes, however, did not have then- origin in gang 
activities. For instance, it may be that the resentment by whites of the 
coming of Negroes into their neighborhood inspired the crowd of boys between 
twelve and sixteen years of age who, in February, 191 7, stoned a four-flat 
building at 456 West Forty-sixth Street. Two Negro families moved into 
the two second-floor flats of this building. The next afternoon about 100 
boys from nearby schools stoned the building. The two Negroes attempted 
to remonstrate but were driven back. One of them reached the ofiice of the 
agent of the building, who notified the pohce. A patrol wagon responded, 
but the boys had disappeared. After it had gone the boys reappeared and 
renewed the stoning. Every window in the upper part of the building was 
broken. On a second riot call Captain Caughlin and Lieutenant James 
McGann and a squad of police rescued the Negroes, who shortly afterward 
sought other quarters. 

Detectives learned the identity of thirty of the boys, some of whom con- 
fessed. With their parents they were compelled to appear at the Stock 
Yards poUce station and pay for the damage inflicted. 

The death of a white man, wrongly thought to have been murdered by 
Negroes, led to rioting on the night of July 3, 1917, in which a party of white 
men in an automobile fired upon a group of Negroes at Fifty-third and Federal 
streets. Apparently no one was hit. EarHer in the evening Charles A. 
Maronde, a saloon-keeper at 5161 South State Street, had been found dead 
following an altercation with Negroes whose passage through his premises 
had irritated him. Two shots were fired, but it was not proved whether by 



Maronde or by the Negroes. A coroner's jury found that he had died of 
heart disease. 

In July and August, 1917, there were minor outbreaks of trouble between 
Negroes and naval recruits from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. 
In some instances recruits and in others Negroes were reported to be the 

When organized gangs took part in clashes the results were more serious. 
A typical case started in the Kohler saloon at South State and Fifty-first 
streets on May 27, 1919, two months before the riot. 

A group of about ten white men entered the saloon together. When a 
Negro came in and called for a drink, one of the whites knocked him down and 
kicked him out of the front door. Arming himseh with brickbats, the Negro 
called on the whites to come out. The gang crossed to another saloon on the 
opposite corner, and when they left it shortly afterward, they carried revolvers. 
They then beat the Negro, cutting his head. Dr. Homer Cooper, whose 
office is above the Kohler saloon, and one of his patients, Michael PantaUono, 
witnessed the affray. 

Roscoe C. Johnston, a Negro plain-clothes man who had been on the 
police force only four days, was told of the trouble by a citizen and found the 
gang in the second saloon. As he approached. Mart. Flannigan drew a revolver. 
Johnston called two plain-clothes men, who chanced to be outside, to summon 
a patrol wagon, then followed the gang back to the Kohler saloon and disarmed 
and arrested Flannigan. Johnston found three automatic revolvers behind 
the bar in the saloon and arrested three more of the men for carrying concealed 
weapons. Later six more of the men were taken when the patrol wagon 
returned to Kohler's, including Patten, the bartender. 

The cases of these ten men were dismissed when they came to trial a week 
later before Judge Grant; lack of evidence was the reason given. Flannigan 
explained that he carried the gun to protect himself while taking money to 
the bank. These young men were said by onlookers to be members of " Ragen's 

"Ragen's Colts" were frequently identified with lawlessness and specific 
clashes before and during the riot. They are typical of the gangs and " athletic 
clubs" which were responsible for much disorder, including attacks upon 
Negroes. This organization was sponsored by Frank Ragen, a politician whose 
record and methods have long offended the decent citizenship of Chicago. 
As a member of the Board of Cook County Commissioners, he allied himself 
with a spoils-seeking majority against which two or three public-spirited 
members waged a courageous struggle. His participation in the Board's 
dehberations was marked by such conduct as the hurling of a large record 
book and inkwells at members who opposed the "ring." 

As part of his political following he gathered about him the young hoodlums 
who make up an important element of the club on which he bestowed his name. 


Ragen's influence has often been able to protect the "Colts" from punishment 
for criminal acts, including the persecution of Negroes. 

Other "athletic" and "social" clubs, though not so notorious, have been 
of a like nature. Miss Mary McDowell, head resident of the University of 
Chicago Social Settlement, told the Commission that she knew of five such 
clubs composed of young men between seventeen and twenty- two : 

Especially before the war they were always under obligation to some politician 
for renting a store and paying the initial expenses of their clubs. That 's what started 
them, and it has come to be quite the fashion to get an empty store with big panes of 
glass on which they Hke to put their names. I am speaking now of " back of the Yards" 

The Ragen Club is mostly Irish-American. The others are from the second 
generation of many nationalities. I don 't think they have deliberate criminal desires. 
I think they get into these ways, and then they are used and exploited often by poUti- 

cians It is about the most dangerous thing that we have in the city. Whether 

the police could not stop them at the time of the riot on the Monday when they went 
down Forty-seventh Street with firearms showing in their hands in autos (a young 
man living with us can give you his affidavit on it) and shouting as they went, "We'll 
get those niggers! " I don't suppose anybody would want to say, but the fact remains 
that nobody did stop them. They went across Halsted Street towards State Street. 
Four poUcemen were there and they never stopped them at all. 

Miss Jane Addams, of Hull-House, also described to the Commission the 
way in which the ward politicians are responsible for these clubs. She said: 

The pohticians have had a new trick the last few years all over the city. They 
pay rent, as Miss McDowell said, for clubs of boys below the voting age. The politi- 
cian used to take care of the young voter and the boy nearly a voter, but now he comes 
down to boys of thirteen and fourteen and fifteen and begins to pay their rent and 
give them special privileges and keeps the police off when they are gambling. The 
whole boy problem is very much more mixed up with these — I won't call them gangs, 
but they are clubs with more or less political affiliations. They are not always loyal 
to their pohtical boss, but he expects them to be and they are, more or less. 

The gangs and "athletic clubs" became more boldly active in the spring 
of 19 19. On the night of June 21, five weeks before the riot, there were two 
wanton murders of Negroes by gangs of white hoodlums. One of the Negroes 
was Sanford Harris, the other Joseph Robinson. There is no evidence that 
either had been offensive in any way, yet they were deUberately killed by gangs. 
There is evidence that the gangs in the neighborhoods of these crimes had 
spread such fear among Negro residents that murders of this kind were not 

Harris lived on Dearborn Street between Fifty-sixth and Fifty-seventh 
streets. About 11:30 p.m. on June 21 he escorted from his home to a street 
car at State and Fifty-seventh streets a woman friend who had been calling on 
his wife. A Negro man, woman, and child alighted from this car, and Harris 
walked behind them west on Fifty-seventh Street on his way home, A number 


of white youths approached the man, woman, and child, one of the gang saying, 
"Let's get that nigger, " referring to the man. Because of the child's presence 
they were allowed to pass unmolested. 

Then the gang caught sight of Harris, who started to run across a vacant lot 
toward his home. A shot was fired and Harris fell after going a short distance. 
He died at the Cook County Hospital from peritonitis due to the bullet wound. 

A woman Hving near Fifty-seventh and Dearborn streets caught hold of 
one of the gang who had a pistol in his hand. A plain-clothes poUceman 
appeared, and she called upon him to arrest the gangster who, she said, had 
shot Harris. The detective merely asked how she was able to pick out the 
man who had fired the shot. Apparently he ignored the fact that the man 
held a revolver in his hand, nor does it appear that he even looked to see whether 
it had been recently discharged. 

A Mrs. T — , who lived above the saloon at the northwest corner of State 
and Fifty-seventh streets, had witnessed the assault on Harris from her back 
porch. When other plain-clothes men came upon the scene, she told them 
that the gang had hidden under the viaduct on Fifty-seventh Street west of 
Dearborn, but there were no arrests and apparently no attempts to make any. 

Earher the same evening, an altercation had taken place between a number 
of white boys from sixteen to twenty years of age and Thomas Johnson, 
a Negro who, with a Mrs. Moss, conducted a store next to a saloon at 
State and Fifty-seventh streets. The boys had been loafing outside the 
door and using foul language. Johnson remonstrated with them and finally 
got a stick and started after them. A number of other Negroes aided in 
driving oS the boys, who, as they left, threatened to "get a gang and come 
back and get you." It is thought that this was the gang that killed Harris. 

Joseph Robinson, the other Negro killed that same night, had lived at 
514 West Fifty-fourth Place. He was forty-seven years of age, a laborer for 
the Union Coal Company, and had a wife and six children, the oldest seventeen 
years of age. He was attacked by a gang at Fifty-fifth Street and Princeton 
Avenue, apparently without provocation, and received knife wounds in the 
back and left leg. He died from shock and hemorrhages on June 23. 

A man named Morden, who Uved at 5713 Drexel Avenue, testified at the 
Robinson inquest that he had met a gang of from fifteen to thirty men at Fifty- 
fifth Street and Shields Avenue about a block from Princeton Avenue. He said 
the gang was walking rapidly east and divided to pass him. He was not far 
away when Robinson was attacked. The Negro had evidently been coming 
in the opposite direction, west on Fifty-fifth Street (Garfield Boulevard) and 
the assault began the instant he met the gang. Morden heard a shot fired 
and saw Robinson stagger across the street to a candy store. He saw several 
men rush forward and help Robinson in the door as the gang scattered. Morden 
declared that several of the gang carried clubs, and that he saw several of these 
during the assault. 


Nicholas Gianakas, who conducted the candy store at 5458 Princeton 
Avenue, into which the wounded man had run, testified that he heard the shot 
and saw people outside running in all directions. He saw Robinson coming 
in the door with blood running off him. Presently Robinson got up and went 
outside to sit on the curb. Gianakas called up the poUce station for an ambu- 
lance. He saw no weapons in the hands of any of the crowd outside and 
recognized none of them. He heard people saying that a mob had come from 
''the Yards." 

Peter Paul Byrne, a patrolman, testified that he had been called from his 
beat at Fifty-fifth and State streets by a man in an automobile, who drove him 
to the candy store. There he also telephoned for an ambulance, then went 
out and rounded up "some kids" on suspicion. There was a big crowd 
around, he said, men, women, and children. 

One man testified at the inquest that an acquaintance spoke of having 
seen a Greek run out of the candy store and hit Robinson on the head with a 
hammer or hatchet. But this acquaintance, when called to testify, denied 
the story. 

Captain Caughhn, in charge of the poHce of that precinct, testified that a 
number of men had been arrested on suspicion, but all of them had been 
discharged because none of them knew anything about the matter. People 
had been running in every direction, he said, there had been a good deal of 
commotion, and he seemed to think it would have been virtually impossible 
for the police to find any of the guilty persons. 

C. L. McCutcheon, a Negro railway postal clerk, living at 517 West 
Fifty-fourth Place, testified at the inquest that he had been threatened by 
mobs, that a gang over on the boulevard had so terrorized the fifteen or twenty 
"colored boys" in the neighborhood for a long time that none of them dared 
to go about alone; that he himself had two boys who would not go on Hals ted 
Street for $10 a trip. 

Following the killing of Harris and Robinson notices were posted along 
Garfield Boulevard and some neighboring streets saying that the authors of 
the notices would "get" all the "niggers" on July 4, 1919. These notices 
also called for help from sympathizers. They predicted that there would be 
a street-car strike on the appointed day, and that then they expected to run 
all Negroes out of the district. Some witnesses at the inquest stated that 
the Negroes of the district, who up to that time had done nothing to protect 
themselves, were advised by friendly whites to "prepare for the worst," as 
trouble could scarcely be avoided. 


May 31 and June 2, 1920 

Waukegan, Illinois, thirty-six miles north of Chicago and near the Great 
Lakes Naval Training Station of the United States Navy, was the scene of 


two riotous attacks during the nights of May 31 and June 2, 1920, on a lodging- 
house for Negroes, by bands of recruits on leave from the Naval Training 
Station. No Hves were lost, and only two persons were hurt, neither of them 

These outbursts scarcely classify as race riots. The chief motive seems to 
have been a desire for excitement on the part of young and active naval recruits. 

The Sherman House was a dilapidated place on Genesee Street, the main 
street of the town. It had been abandoned by whites and was run as a lodging- 
house for thirty or thirty-five unmarried Negroes, chiefly factory workers. 
On the first floor was a pookoom and soft-drink "parlor," which some of the 
naval recruits had patronized. 

A mischievous Negro boy of ten years, George Taylor, was primarily respon- 
sible for the outbreaks. On the afternoon of May 31 he and his little sister had 
been throwing stones at passing automobiles in Sheridan Road. One of these 
missiles broke the wind shield of an automobile driven by Lieutenant A. F. 
Blazier, an ofiicer at the Great Lakes Station, who allowed this fact to become 
known to some of the recruits at the station. Late that evening an unorganized 
mob of recruits assembled at the Sherman House and threw stones, breaking 
nearly all the windows. The mob was rushed by all the available poUce in 
Waukegan, who took six prisoners. One reported incident was the chasing of 
a Negro by half a dozen bluejackets and marines and his rescue by the police. 

Provost guards from the Naval Station rounded up the rioters and took 
them back to Great Lakes, thus ending the outbreak. 

Two nights later, or June 2, 150 boys on leave from the Naval Training 
Station renewed the attack. They gathered in a ravine near the hotel and 
at ten o'clock they poured forth, led by a sailor carrying an American flag. 
The police had been warned and were ready with reinforcements. 

About seventy-five feet from the lodging-house the poUce ordered the 
attackers to halt; no attention was paid to the command, and they fired 
their riot guns in the air, wounding two marines who were some distance 
away. Hand-to-hand fighting ensued, during which the police seized the 
flag and arrested two marines. The Great Lakes boys gathered about the 
police station and demanded their comrades. 

Commander M. M. Frucht, executive officer of the Naval Station, who 
had already been sent to Waukegan by Commandant Bassett, appeared at 
the door and quieted the crowd with a promise that all concerned would have 
a square deal. He also advised them to return at once to the Naval Station. 

The police released the two prisoners and gave back the flag. Two hundred 
provost guards from the Naval Station arrived in motor trucks while the crowd 
was at the poHce station. 

Waukegan youths, evidently banded together for the purpose, searched 
the house of Edward Dorsey, Negro, at 905 Market Street, on the night of 
June 5. Ten of them, ranging from seventeen to twenty- two years, were 


arrested. They said they had heard that five white persons were held prisoners 
in Dorsey's home and that it was their intention to effect a rescue. It was 
asserted that a number of provost guards accompanied the crowd to the 
Dorsey house. 

The general spirit of the people of Waukegan regarding Negroes may be 
judged from a proclamation by Mayor J. F. Bidinger, in which he disclaimed 
for the people of the city any intention to harass the Negro. Referring to 
reports that some of the white people of the town had participated in the 
disturbances, the mayor said: "In the first they did not, and in the second 
in no great numbers. Hoodlums generally run true to form and seldom 
overlook ready-made opportunity to manifest their peculiar taste in deviltry. 
Hence the mixing of a few of them into these fracases signifies nothing in so 
far as our general public is concerned." 

Observers agreed with the mayor that the disturbances were not race 
riots. In this connection his proclamation said: 

Now it is a definitely ascertained fact that no adult Negro was even remotely 
connected with the first stone-throwing; that the colored people did not then retaliate 
and have not since sought to retaliate in even the smallest measure; and that all 
the episodes have consisted simply of an attack upon people who have been as inof- 
fensive throughout the entire affair as they could well be. AU of which I submit 
stamps this affair as an example of disorderly conduct indeed, but not as a race riot. 


Sunday afternoon, June 20, 1920, a small group of Negroes styUng them- 
selves " Abyssinians " ended a parade of their "order" in front of a cafe at 
209 East Thirty-fifth Street frequented by both whites and Negroes. After 
a brief ceremony one of the leaders produced an American flag and deliberately 
burned it. He then began to destroy a second flag in the same manner. 
Two white policemen remonstrated with the men but were intimidated by 
threats and a brandishing of revolvers. They left immediately to notify 
police headquarters. Patrolman Owens, Negro, arrived as a second flag was 
lighted. Rushing up to the leader who held the burning flag in his hands 
and remonstrating with the group for their disloyalty, he was immediately 
shot and wounded. Robert Lawson Rose, a sailor on leave from the Great 
Lakes Naval Training Station, protested against the destruction of the flag 
and he too was shot; he staggered into the doorway of a cigar store at 
207 East Thirty-fifth Street. Some of the parade leaders got rifles from a 
closed automobile which had followed the parade and was standing near by, 
and fired into the cigar store. One of these bullets killed Joseph Hoyt, a clerk 
in the store. The sailor. Rose, also died from his wound. In all about twenty- 
five shots were fired during the fracas, and several persons were injured. 

The men who did the shooting escaped but were arrested later. Crowds 
attracted by the demonstration quickly dispersed when the shooting began. 


and from then on there was virtually no disorder except for attacks at a raiboad 
station on three Negro ministers who were returning to the city and knew 
nothing of the shooting. Nine Negroes were arrested and held to the grand 
jury. One of them was Grover Cleveland Redding, thirty-seven or thirty- 
eight years of age, who was the "prophet" of the "Abyssinian" order in 
Chicago. Redding, who had admitted the shooting of Rose, was held with 
Oscar McGavick for murder, and the others as accessories after the fact.' 

The exact reason for this flag-burning has not been disclosed, although 
it was apparently intended to symbolize the feeling of the "Abyssinian" 
followers that it was time to forswear allegiance to the American government 
and consider themselves under allegiance to the Abyssinian government. 

The guns used in the shooting were found by the poUce in a garage, together 
with the regaUa of the " Abyssinians, " and much of their printed matter and 
other effects.^ 

The "Abyssinian" affair might easily have been turned into another 
great outbreak such as that of July, 1919. But the police, profiting by their 
experience of the previous year, were vigilant. They had organized an emer- 
gency force which was quickly mobilized and put in service in the district. 
Moreover, there was evident such a feeling of restraint on the part of both 
whites and Negroes that they combined to hunt down the offenders. 

Indicative of this spirit of co-operation to prevent racial conflict, and helpful 
to it, was the careful handling of the matter by the press. Practically every 
newspaper gave prominence to the way in which the two races worked together 
to this end, and all dwelt on the courageous action of the Negro poHceman. 
A picture printed in the Herald-Examiner the foUowing morning showed 
people of the two races fraternizing after the shooting. The Daily News in 
reporting the affray said that only the co-operation of the white and Negro 
merchants of the district stopped the disturbance; that rowdies in the neighbor- 
hood were ready for a fight, but that "the better class of whites and Negroes 
worked directly with the police to stop any such trouble as a recurrence of 
the rioting last summer, which occurred in the same neighborhood." 

To understand the "Abyssinian" affair an acquaintance with other 
characters, certain group propaganda and movements, is necessary. The 
"Back to Africa" movement, which lent fervor and enthusiasm to the develop- 
ment of lawlessness and wanton killing by this group of unlettered Negroes, 
has been in progress for more than two years. The Black Star Steamship 
Line and the Universal Improvement Association, headed by a Negro, Marcus 
Garvey, a British subject, were organized to estabUsh commercial relations 

' Redding had admitted having shot Rose, and evidence against others for their participa- 
tion in the killing, while not conclusive, was rather convincing. 

= At the trial of these men six months later, Grover Cleveland Redding and Oscar 
McGavick were sentenced to hang for the murder of Rose and Hoyt. The others held for 
trial were released. Redding has since been hanged. 












.u as 

•*e«.^*(. Stf a. HI«M 




with Africa. To arouse interest and secure funds for the enterprise, sentiment 
has been created among Negroes for the developing of sections of Africa where 
they may govern themselves and build up their own institutions and commerce. 
The movement has gained thousands of adherents; although the language of 
its appeals has frequently been extreme, it has engaged in no dangerous or 
unpatriotic activities. Its connection with the tragic incident lies in the 
impHcation that "Back to Africa" means away from the land of unfair treat- 
ment, and thus suggests contempt for the United States. 

The "Star Order of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Missionaries to Abyssinia" 
appears to be an illegitimate offspring of the Universal Improvement Associa- 
tion and the Black Star Steamship Line. The visit of the Abyssinian Mission 
to this country a year ago to renew a treaty between their country and the 
United States probably served as an added suggestion. The leaders of the 
movement were Redding, secretary of the order; Joseph Fernon, called 
the "Great Abyssinian," and his son, "The Prince." Together with a "Dr." 
R. D. Jonas, a white man who for several years has engaged in sundry activities 
among Negroes, they organized this movement among a class of Negroes too 
ignorant to exercise restraint over their racial resentments. 

EmotionaHsm was aroused and a semi-religious twist was given through 
their appeals, which played more or less injudiciously on the desire of Negroes 
to improve their economic status and to escape from what some of them 
regard as oppression, either in this or in other countries. One or two other 
similar organizations are making such an appeal, not only to Negroes in this 
country, but to other dark-skinned races throughout the world. It is sought 
to weld them all together into a great nation. Glittering promises are set 
before the illiterate element of the Negro race, which has responded sufficiently 
to fatten the purses of some, at least, of the "prophets." 

Redding was one of these "prophets." He was influenced by the white 
man, "Dr." R. D. Jonas, and had purchased from him the robe or toga 
which he wore during the parade of June 20. According to those who knew 
both men, he had first "stolen Jonas' thunder" and the following out of which 
the "Star Order of Ethiopia" had been manufactured. Having lost this, 
Jonas was willing to sell the regalia. 

Jonas, it appears, had been promoting one movement after another among 
ilHterate Negroes for six or seven years. At one time he conducted a 
co-operative store on State Street, in which he sold shares. He was often 
an orator at street gatherings and had been arrested a number of times. When 
Alexander Dowie of Zion City died, Jonas is said to have attempted to put 
himself into the vacant position. After the East St. Louis riots he appeared 
in Chicago in an express wagon with signs indicating that he was collecting 
funds for the Negroes of East St. Louis. 

During the afternoon of the shooting, Jonas had been the principal speaker 
at a small, orderly meeting of Negroes in Johnson's Hall, 3516 South State 


Street, at which he had launched a campaign for Mayor Thompson as a 
third-party candidate for president of the United States. The Mayor, he 
said, was the only man who could be trusted "to carry out Roosevelt's work" 
and put through the treaty with Abyssinia which expired in 191 7. He also 
referred to the efforts of the Jews to return to Palestine and of the Irish to 
free themselves from British domination, and suggested the desirability of a 
coalition of the Negro, Jewish, and Irish races. Redding's hold on many of 
the Negroes was partly due to the fact that he is a Negro and claims to be a 
native of Abyssinia, whereas Jonas is a white man. 

Quite evidently the "Back to Abyssinia" movement was used as a means 
for exploiting credulous Negroes. For one dollar they could purchase an 
Abyssinian flag, a small pamphlet containing a prophecy relating to the return 
of the black-skinned people to Africa, a copy of a so-called treaty between the 
United States and Abyssinia, and a picture of the "Prince of the Abyssinians." 
Likewise when the propaganda had begun to take root, one might sign a blank 
form which would cormnit him to return to "my motherland of Ethiopia" in 
order that he might fill any one of forty-four positions, such as electrical engineer, 
mechanical draftsman, civil engineer, architect, chemist, sign-painter, cartoon- 
ist, illustrator, traffic manager, teacher, auto-repairing, agriculture, and 
poultry-raising. The blank itself was headed : 


"A Prince shall come out of Egypt. Ethiopia shall soon stretch 
out her hands to God." — Ps. 68:31. 

This is to certify that my name was given to Elder Grover Redding, Missionary 
to Abyssinia, to show to my brothers in my motherland that I am with them, heart 
and soul. 

Oh, Wonderful Land, God remembers Thee. He shall deUver Thee from under 
the heels of Thy Oppressors. He remembers when Asia condemned Him, and Europe 
put Him to death, and it was Africa who haven him until King Herod was dead. It 
was Africa's son who helped Bare his Cross up to Calvar>\ There was Africa's son 
the Apostle Phillip met, and he carried the Gospel to Thy land. It was Thee whose 
Queen came to King Solomon to prove him with hard questions. Ethiopia, Thou 
was first on Earth; Thou shall be last, for Jehova has spoken it. (See Scrip: Zeph. 
3:8, 9, 10; Isa. 18 Chap.; Ps. 68:30, 31.) 




This is to certify that I have signed my name as an Ethiopian in America in 
sympathy -nith our motherland Ethiopia. I henceforth denounce the name of Negro 
which was given me by another race. 

At this point the applicant declares himself ready at any time needed to 
fill any of the positions in a hst below, which he has checked and which he is 


qualified to fill. Blank space appears then for name, address, present occupa- 
tion, city, state, and county. At the bottom appears the name of George 
Gabriel, described as "Abyssinian" linguist and native of Abyssinia, together 
with that of Grover C. Redding, secretary and missionary. The applicant 
is requested to mail the blank to 181 2 Thirteenth Street, Washington, D.C., 
in care of Mrs. Dabney, or 115 W. 138th Street, New York City, care of Charles 
Manson, or Joseph Goldberg, Jaffa, Palestine. 

The immediate inspiration of the Abyssinians, as previously suggested, 
was a visit to this country, more than a year before, of a delegation from 
Abyssinia, which had concerned itself with a renewal of the old treaty. It is 
pointed out that the chief reason why Negroes should be interested in this 
treaty is that they might use it to overthrow "Jim Crow" laws in certain 
states. Under this treaty Abyssinians had been guaranteed the right to 
travel at will in the United States under the protection of the federal govern- 
ment. Men like Redding had evidently interpreted this to mean that under 
such a treaty the United States would be bound to interfere in behalf of Abys- 
sinians, if they should be discriminated against under a "Jim Crow" law. 

Redding, however, had some sort of biblical interpretation for his move- 
ment. He maintained that his mission was indicated in the Bible. He 
quoted from the Scriptures these words: "So shall the King of Assyria lead 
away the Egyptian prisoners, the Ethiopian captives, young and old, to the 
shame of Egypt." Asserting that the Ethiopians do not belong here, and that 
they should be taken back to their own country, he construed a biblical passage 
as meaning that the time of their bondage in a foreign country should be the 
expiration of a 300-year period. This period, he said, began in 1619, when 
Negroes were first taken for purposes of slavery from Africa to America. He 
said that the burning of the flag was the symbol indicated to him through these 
bibUcal passages, and the sign that Abyssinians should no longer stay in this 

As to the flag of Abyssinia, he had interpreted it thus: "The red means 
the blood of Christ; the green, the grass on which he knelt for you and me; 
the yellow for the clay. The Ethiopian flag is better known as 'Calvary's 

Jonas, from whom Redding had obtained these ideas of a Negro Utopia 
in Africa, claimed that he had introduced to President Wilson the Abyssinian 
delegation which had come to this country. He claimed the credit for having 
taken Redding into his home and cared for him several years ago at the behest 
of Mrs. Jonas, who had told him that he was a "smart young fellow." 

The ceremonies and manifestations of the "Abyssinians" were marked by 
such fanaticism that responsible Negroes repudiated them and condemned 
the leaders along with other criminals and exploiters of the ignorant Negroes. 
The Negro World, organ of the Universal Improvement Association and Black 
Star Line, carried the following article. 


Appalled by the \'iolence aroused on Sunday night, when an American flag was 
burned and two men were killed by the Abyssinian zealots, colored leaders of the 
Middle West have begim a systematic campaign to eliminate white exploitation among 
the Negroes and to bring about better racial co-operation. 

The Chicago poUce annoionced today that all the men wanted in the case, except 
two, are under arrest. They also promised that the career of Grover Cleveland 
Redding, self-styled "Prince of Abyssinia," and identified as a ringleader in the 
affair, will enter a new phase tomorrow when the frock-coated suspect is formally 
charged with murder, accessory to murder and rioting. 

Oscar jVIcGavick, one of the men sought, was arrested in Pittsburgh today. 
"BDl" Briggs and Frank Heans were taken into custody here. This leaves the police 
list with only two names, the Femons, father and son. "Dr." R. D. Jonas, known on 
the South Side as a professional agitator, was released today, no evidence having been 
found of his direct connection with the shooting. Federal officials are investigating him . 

According to the opinions of some of the leaders among Chicago Negroes the 
"Abyssinian movement," from which Sunday m'ght's trouble indirectly resulted, is a 
legitimate and vahd enterprise. It is but one of the manifestations of that bubbling 
activity which today characterizes the colored people of America in their struggle for 
race progression. 

The trouble Ues, they claim, in a group of exploiters and moimtebanks, who, 
unauthorized by real leaders in the movement, have seized upon it as a medimn for per- 
sonal gain. In Chicago two of these were Jonas and Redding, it is claimed. 

Pertinent on this point also is the stand taken by the Chicago Defetider, 
among the most influential of the Negro publications, concerning the Abys- 
sinians, which said editorially: 

We warn all agitators, whether they be white or black, that this paper, standing as 
it does for law and order, for justice to all men, for that brotherhood without which no 
coimtry can long prosper, and for the better element of our twelve milhons, that we 
condemn their disloyalty and will do all in our power to aid the constituted authorities 
in crushing them. 

The burning of the American flag by a group of self-styled Abyssinians at 35th St. 
and Indiana Avenue last Simday evening, as a means of showing their contempt 
for the United States, and the resultant murders that followed in the wake of this 
demonstration, instead of accomphshing the end desired by these malcontents, acted 
as a boomerang. Every black face portrayed indignation. Every black arm was 
lifted to strike a blow at these law-breakers. This is our home, our country, our flag, 
for whose honor and protection we will give our last drop of blood. With all our 
shortcomings it can never truthfully be said that we are disloyal or unpatriotic. 

The real problem indicated by the "Abyssinian" affair is how to prevent 
self-seekers from playing upon the superstitions and emotions of ignorant 
Negroes, to the harm of others and the disturbance of the peace. 


The murder of a white man, Thomas J. Barrett, by a Negro on September 
20, 1920, is not particularly significant in itself. But it was committed in 

^ ^ 



the heart of the district where some of the worst rioting took place in 1919, 
it created a situation which might easily have developed into another serious 
riot, and it affords an example of prompt and effective police handling. 

Forty-seventh and Halsted streets is the intersection of two main thorough- 
fares used by Negroes returning home from work in the Stock Yards. The 
neighborhood is one where gangs of hoodlums have attacked Negroes, and is 
thickly settled with people who have shown considerable antagonism toward 

Barrett, who was a motorman on the Chicago surface lines, was killed 
shortly after seven o'clock in the evening. He had had his shoes shined at 
the stand of William Sianis, 4720 South Halsted Street, and had purchased 
a newspaper at Halsted and Forty-seventh streets at about 7:00 p.m. About 
the same time three Negroes came out of the yards of Ready & Callaghan 
on Halsted Street between Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh, and one of these 
Negroes went to the news stand seeking a newspaper in which to roll up his 
overalls. In an encounter with these Negroes, Barrett was fatally stabbed, 
dying before he reached a hospital. His head was nearly severed from his 

The Negroes, pursued by a rapidly increasing crowd of whites, ran north 
nearly a block on Halsted Street. They turned into a vacant lot and went 
through alleys until they emerged on Forty-fifth Street near Emerald Avenue, 
evidently trying to work their way east to the main Negro neighborhood. 
The crowd, however, had thickened so rapidly that they took refuge in St. 
Gabriel's Catholic Church, just east of Lowe Avenue. 

The mob was checked by the appearance and quieting remarks of Father 
Thomas M. Burke, pastor of the church. He told them that the Negroes had 
sought sanctuary, that there were laws to punish them, and that it was not 
the province of a mob to wreak summary vengeance. 

Meanwhile the police were already arriving. A patrol wagon had left 
the Stock Yards station about seven o'clock, and followed the pursuing crowd. 
Acting Lieutenant Bullard telephoned at once to Chief Garrity, and extra 
police were quickly thrown into the neighborhood to control the crowd. 

Samuel C. Rank, lieutenant of police at the Thirteenth Precinct station. 
Forty-seventh Place and Halsted Street, had received the alarm about seven 
o'clock. He sent five detectives and followed shortly after to the scene of 
the disturbance. He went into the church with Sergeant Brown and three 
detectives. Lieutenant Rank forced a number of the mob to leave the church 
and locked the doors. Captain Hogan, of the Tenth Police Precinct, and 
Chief Garrity arrived about this time. The three Negroes were taken through 
a rear entrance to a patrol wagon in the alley and removed to the Hyde Park 
police station, a considerable distance away. 

The crowd in front of the church had grown by this time to 3,000 or 4,000. 
In order to quiet them they were again addressed by Father Burke, who told 


them the Negroes had been removed from the church. They dispersed 
about 10:30 P.M. 

Profitmg by the experience of 1919 Chief Garrity made prompt use of 
prearranged plans to check all such disorders in their incipiency. He immedi- 
ately closed saloons and "clubs" in which young hoodlums were accustomed 
to gather. He had the police patrol the streets by twos. He drew a "dead 
line" to prevent Negroes from entering the district. With his forces well 
organized and distributed, he set up headquarters at the Stock Yards Precinct 
station and spent the night there, with Captain Westbrook, commander of 
the second battalion of police. Captain Hogan, and Lieutenant Ira McDonnell, 
of the Desplaines Street station. Street cars and automobiles approaching 
the police "dead line" were stopped and all Negro passengers warned off. 
Street gatherings were broken up and people were searched for weapons. 
People were also kept moving in the streets. This display of force undoubtedly 
had its quieting effect. Nevertheless, a stray Negro was here and there 
attacked despite the vigilance of the police. 

During the five or six hours following the murder, racial street fights 
occurred at Forty-fifth Street and Wabash Avenue. A mob stormed a house 
at 229 East Forty-fifth Street, attempted to burn it and did considerable 
damage. Frank Gavin, a white man, 1509 Marquette Road, was shot in the 
back during the mobbing of a Negro at Fifty-third Street and Racine Avenue. 
Hoodlums pulled Negroes from street cars and beat them. A Negro who had 
been dragged from a car at Thirty-ninth and Emerald Avenue, was rescued by 
several white women after he had been severely beaten with clubs. A man 
and a small boy, Negroes, were attacked by a gang at Fuller Park, Forty-fifth 
Street and Shields Avenue. At Forty-seventh and Halsted streets three 
Negroes were taken from a car and slugged, and two others had a similar 
experience at Forty-seventh Street and Union Avenue. Frank Stevens, a 
white man, 3738 Langley Avenue, was badly injured by a crowd of Negroes 
at Thirty-ninth Street and Normal Avenue. 

Precautions were continued next day for the protection of Negroes working 
in the Stock Yards, and frequenting the district where the disorders had 
occurred. This district ran as far west as Racine Avenue and as far east as 
Prairie; as far north as Thirty-second Street and as far south as Fifty-third 
Street. Negroes working at the Stock Yards had police escorts to and from 
their work, and the car lines on Halsted and Forty-seventh and Thirty-fifth 
streets, and on Racine Avenue, which are much used by the Negroes, were 
especially guarded. Only one clash was recorded the following day. By 
six o'clock Wednesday morning, thirty-seven hours after the murder, the 
special police concentration was discontinued. 

Nine persons in all were reported injured during this disturbance. Nine 
men were arrested, including the three Negroes whom Barrett had encountered. 
These three were: Samuel Hayes, forty years old, 519 East Thirty-fifth 


Street; Henry Snow, thirty- two years old, 517 East Thirty-fifth Street; 
and Frank Gatewood, forty-three years old, 3446 Prairie Avenue. 

Witnesses at the inquest differed as to whether there was any provocation 
for the stabbing of Barrett. Only one of them testified that he heard any of 
the four persons say anything. This was Carl Duwell, a printer, 466 West 
Twenty-fourth Place, who had just alighted from a Halsted Street car. He 
said that Barrett was following the three colored men and seemed to be threat- 
ening them, saying " You want to fight ? " One of the Negroes suddenly turned 
and struck at Barrett, slashing his throat. The Negroes had been walking fast, 
with Barrett following a few feet behind them. After he was struck, Barrett 
staggered a few feet to the curb and fell. 

Barrett's widow said he was not in the habit of carrying weapons, but it 
was current talk that he had been arrested a number of times for street fights 
with Negroes. He had been a policeman in the service of the South Park 
Commission, and was an ex-soldier. William Sianis, at whose stand Barrett 
had his shoes shined just before the murder, said that Barrett was apparently 
sober. Neighborhood gossip was to the effect that Barrett had been drinking 
at McNally's saloon at Forty-seventh and Halsted streets. Also Duwell's 
testimony indicated that Barrett had been drinking. 

According to Police Captain Hogan, when the Negroes were arrested in 
the church, knives were found on the persons of two of them. One of these, 
Sam Hayes, admitted to the police at that time that he had stabbed a white 
man at Forty-seventh and Halsted streets. His story was that when he asked 
the newsboy at the corner for a newspaper in which to wrap his overalls, 
Barrett threatened him and then struck him, and the stabbing followed. 

During the night following the murder, Chief of Police Garrity issued a 
statement which was published conspicuously in the morning newspapers, 
and was most effectively worded to prevent misunderstanding of the incident 
and avert use of it to inflame racial hostility. The statement began: 

There has been no race riot. The killing at Forty-seventh and Halsted streets 
was merely a street-comer fight. There was grave danger that it would be followed 
by serious trouble. Precautionary measures were taken at once to forestall the recur- 
rence of the riots, with the destruction of life and property, of last summer. 

This was followed by a detailed account of the special measures and 
distribution of police to handle the situation. 

11. The Springfield Riot 
August 14-15, 1908 
The race riot at Springfield, Illinois, in August, 1908, which cost the lives 
of two Negroes and four white men, is an outstanding example of the racial 
bitterness and brutality that can be provoked by unsubstantiated rumor or, 
as in this case, by deliberate falsehood. The two Negro victims were innocent 
and unoffending. They were lynched under the shadow of the capitol of 


Lincoln's state, within half a mile of the only home he ever owned, and two 
miles from the monimient which marks the grave of the great emancipator. 

A second fundamental factor in the Springfield riot situation was the 
fertile field prepared by admittedly lax law enforcement and by tolerance in 
the community of vicious conditions, the worst of which were permitted to 
surround the Negro areas. 

The spark which touched off the explosion was the old story of the violation 
of a white woman by a Negro, and not imtil the damage had been done was 
its falsity confessed by the woman who had told it. 

On the night of Friday, August 14, 1908, according to her story, Mrs. 
H — , wife of a street-railway conductor, was asleep in her room. She was 
alone in the house. She declared that a Negro entered, dragged her from her 
bed to the back yard, and there committed the crime. She said she had 
attempted to scream but was choked by her assailant, who left her lying uncon- 
scious in the garden. 

A- Negro, George Richardson, who had been at work on a neighboring 
lawn the day before the attack, was accused by Mrs. H — and was arrested 
when he returned to work the next morning. He was placed in the county 
jail and on August 19 he was indicted. 

During inquiry by a special grand jury certain facts were disclosed concern- 
ing Mrs. H — 's character, and she admitted that, though she had been 
brutally beaten by a white man on the night indicated, Richardson was not 
present and had no connection with the affair. She admitted that she had 
not been raped. For reasons known only to herself, she wished to keep the 
name of the real assailant a secret, and therefore she had accused Richardson. 
She signed an afl&davit exonerating him. Richardson had no criminal record. 
He and two of his family were property owners in Springfield. 

While Richardson was in custody and before he was exonerated, feeling 
against him was intensified because of the murder, three or four weeks before, 
of Clergy A. Ballard, a white man, by Joe James, a Negro tramp, who was a 
drug and whiskey addict. James had been taken from a freight train and placed 
in jail for thirty days and had been released on the night of the crime. He 
was charged with entering the room of Ballard's daughter, Blanche, at 
night. Ballard grappled with him, but James broke away and ran. In the 
struggle Ballard was mortally injured. James was found asleep in a park 
near the Ballard home about noon the next day, under the influence of a 
drug. He was tried and hanged, and his body was taken back to Mississippi 
by his mother for interment. Rev. Mr. Dawson, spiritual adviser of James, 
stated that James declared he had no knowledge of the crime. 

Springfield was, therefore, in a receptive mood when, on the morning of 
Friday, August 15, it got the first rumors concerning the attack on Mrs. H — . 
Richardson had been taken before her and partially identified. In the after- 
noon, when it became known that he had been arrested, crowds gathered 


about the jail. They seemed good-natured rather than blood-thirsty. It 
was also known that James, accused of the Ballard murder, occupied a cell in 
the jail. The sheriff preserved order through the afternoon, no effort being 
made to disperse the crowd of 300 or 400 persons. About five o'clock Richardson 
and James were taken in an automobile to Sherman, north of Springfield, and 
there they were transferred by train to Bloomington. 

About 7:00 P.M. leadership began to develop in the mob about the jail. 
The leaders demanded the two Negroes, but were finally convinced by the 
sheriff that they were not in the jail. Then the story spread that Harry 
Loper, a restaurant keeper, had provided the automobUe in which the men had 
been removed. The crowd rushed to the restaurant five blocks away. In 
response to the mob's hootings Loper appeared in the doorway with a firearm 
in his hand. About 8:30 p.m. someone threw a brick through a plate-glass 
window and in a few minutes the front of the restaurant had been smashed 
out. Then followed the complete wrecking of the restaurant, as well as the 
owner's automobile, which had been standing in front. 

WTien the mob began to surge through the town the Fire Department was 
called to disperse it, but the mob cut the hose. Control having been lost 
by the sheriff and police, Governor Deneen called out the militia. The mob, 
by this time very much excited, started for the Negro district through Washing- 
ton Street, along which a large number of Negroes lived on upper floors. 
Raiding second-hand stores which belonged to white men, the mob secured 
guns, axes, and other weapons with which it destroyed places of business 
operated by Negroes and drove out all of the Negro residents from Washington 
Street. Then it turned north into Ninth Street. 

At the northeast corner of Ninth and Jefferson streets was the frame 
barber shop of Scott Burton, a Negro. The mob set fire to this building. 
From that point it went a block farther north to Madison Street and then turned 
east and began firing all the shacks in which Negroes and whites lived in that 

Burton, the first victim of the mob's violence, was lynched in the yard 
back of his shop. The mob tied a rope around his neck and dragged him 
through the streets. An effort was then made to burn the body, which had 
been hung to a tree. This was at two o'clock in the morning. 

About this time a company of militia arrived from Decatur, Illinois, 
and proceeded through Madison Street to Twelfth Street, where the mob was 
engaged in mutilating Burton's body, riddling it with bullets. The mob was 
twice ordered to disperse, and the militia fired in the air twice. The third 
time the troops fired into the ankles and legs of the mob. At least two of the 
men in the mob were wounded and the mob quickly gave way. 

By this time the Negroes were badly frightened and began leaving town. 
Meanwhile, Governor Deneen had sent for more troops, including two regi- 
ments from Chicago. Before the rioting ended 5,000 militiamen were patrolling 


the streets of Springfield. On Saturday morning the militia began to arrive 
in force, including detachments from Chicago. This was a comparatively 
quiet day, but that night another Negro was lynched within a block of the 
State House. The mob gathered on the Court House Square and marched 
south on Fifth Street to Monroe, west on Monroe to Spring, and south on 
Spring to Edwards. At the southeast corner of Spring and Edwards streets 
a Negro named Donegan and his family had lived for many years. Donegan 
was eighty-four years old and owned the half-block of ground where he lived. 
He was found sleeping in his own yard and was quickly strung up to a tree 
across the street. Then his throat was cut and his body mutilated. The 
troops interfered at this point and cut down the man, taking him in an ambu- 
lance to the hospital, where he died the following morning. Donegan's only 
offense seems to have been that he had had a white wife for more than thirty 
years. He bore a good reputation, and the mob had found no reason for lynch- 
ing him. 

Abe Raymer, who was supposed to have been the leader of the mob, 
was charged with the murder of Donegan, but was released. 

As an example of the disorder which occurred Friday evening, it is narrated 
that Eugene W. Chafin, Prohibition candidate for the presidency, was delivering 
an address on the east side of the public square. A Negro pursued by the mob 
ran toward the speaker's stand from Fifth and Washington streets, where he 
had been pulled from a street car. Two men helped him to the speaker's 
stand, while Chafin at the front of the platform threatened to shoot into the 
crowd. Although he had no revolver he made a motion toward his hip pocket. 
Durmg the melee before gaining the platform the Negro drew a knife from his 
pocket and slashed several white men. When he had escaped from the rear 
of the platform, missiles flew in the direction of Mr. Chafin, one of them hitting 
him on the head. 

Four men were rounded up who had been blacked up to resemble Negroes 
and had been firing on soldiers durmg the night in an effort to substantiate 
the assertion that the Negroes did not welcome the soldiers. 

Sunday was quiet. No effort was made to reorganize the mob. The 
whole city was as if under martial law. The saloons were shut and every place 
of business was closed at 9 : oo p.m. 

The people who took part in the mob violence had no grievances against 
the Negroes. They were hoodlums and underworld folk. Many of the 
hoodlums, according to one observer, were less than twenty years old. 

During the rioting four white men were killed. They were : Louis Johnson, 
of 1208 East Reynolds Street, whose body was found at the foot of the stairs 
leading to the barroom in Toper's restaurant. He was shot through the 
abdomen; John Colwell, of 151 7 Matheny Street, who died at St. John's 
Hospital; J. W. Scott, of 125 East Adams Street, who was shot in the lungs; 
Frank Delmore, who was killed by a stray bullet. 


Seventy-nine persons were injured. The property destroyed included 
Leper's restaurant and automobile, Scott Burton's barber shop, the Delmonico 
saloon, and one block of houses between Tenth and Eleventh streets, which were 
burned, with all their contents. Scores of families were left destitute. Many 
Negroes were severely beaten before they were able to escape from the district. 
Numbers of these homeless colored people swarmed to neighboring towns and 
to Chicago. Three thousand of them were concentrated at Camp Lincoln, 
the National Guard camp grounds. Some of the refugees were cared for at 
the arsenal. 

Current comment concerning the riots suggested political corruption and 
laxity of law enforcement as important underlying causes of the riots. An as- 
sistant state's attorney in Springfield charged that saloons had long been vio- 
lating the law, and that the law was not generally enforced as it ought to be. He 
cited these conditions as responsible in large measure for the rioting and mur- 
ders. Pastors in their sermons on the riot focused attention on the way in which 
vicious elements were permitted to flout the law with impunity. This comment 
came so generally and insistently from those conversant with the situation 
that the Chicago Daily News was led to remark editorially upon the responsi- 
bility of the public authorities of Springfield. It said: 

Vice and other forms of law breaking have been given wide latitude here. The 
notoriety of Springfield 's evil resorts has been widespread. 

A mob which murders, bums and loots, is a highly undesirable substitute even 
for a complacent city administration. It is a logical result, however, of long temporiz- 
ing with vice and harboring of the vicious. When a mob begins to shoot and hang, 
to destroy and pillage, there is instant recognition on the part of responsible persons 
of the beauty of law enforcement and of general orderliness. 

On the Sunday following the riots some Springfield saloon-keepers took 
advantage of the fact that large crowds of sight-seers had come to town to 
open their places, in violation of the order by Mayor Reece to remain closed. 
Some of them were arrested for defiance of the mayor's proclamation to remain 
closed until order had been restored. 

By Monday or Tuesday order was pretty well restored in Springfield. 
Some of the National Guard troops were kept on duty for several days. Almost 
100 arrests were made, and a special grand jury returned more than fifty 

III. East St. Louis Riots 

May 28 and July 2, 1917 

Following a period of bitter racial feeling, frequently marked by open 
friction, a clash between whites and Negroes in East St. Louis, Illinois, occurred 
on May 28, 191 7, in which, following rumors that a white man had been killed 
by Negroes, a number of Negroes were beaten by a mob of white men. This 
outbreak was the forerunner of a much more serious riot on July 2, in which 


at least thirty-nine Negroes and eight white people were killed, much property 
was destroyed by fire, and the local authorities proved so ineffective and 
demoralized that the state militia was required to restore order. A Congres- 
sional Committee investigated the facts of the riot and the underlying condi- 
tions, which included industrial disturbances and shameful corruption in 
local government.' 

The coroner of St. Clair County in which East St. Louis is situated, held 
thirty-eight inquests, as a result of which it was found that twenty-six of these 
deaths had been due to gun-shot wounds, four to drowning, four to burns, 
two to fractured skulls, one to hemorrhage of the brain, and one to pneumonia 
after a fracture of the thyroid cartilage. Hundreds of persons were estimated 
to have been more or less seriously injured, seventy having been treated in St. 
Mary's Hospital. It has been impossible to get an accurate accounting of the 
deaths and injuries. One man who had taken a deep interest in the situation es- 
timated that from 200 to 300 Negroes were killed. 

About 200 people were arrested. Some of these were released, some were 
charged with rioting and conspiracy, and others with arson. Two white women 
were tried for conspiracy and rioting, and fined $50.00. Ten Negroes were 
convicted of rioting and murder. Indictments of 104 white persons grew out 
of the immediate activities of the rioters. Three policemen were among those 
indicted for murder in connection with firing upon Negro bystanders. In 
this same group of assailants were seven soldiers who were court-martialed. 
No finding in their cases has been announced. Three white men were indicted 
for murder in connection with a raid upon a street-car load of Negro passengers 
in which a father and son were killed, a mother was wounded severely, and a 
little daughter escaped. Twenty-six men, two of them Negroes, were indicted 
for arson. 

The effort to bring the guilty to justice was commented upon and sum- 
marized by this Congressional Committee as follows: 

Assistant Attorney General Middlekauf had active charge of the prosecutions 
growing out of the riot, and he showed neither fear nor favor. Capable, determined, 
and courageous, he allowed neither political influence nor personal appeals to swerve 
him from the strict line of duty. 

As a result of these prosecutions by the attorney general 's office 1 1 Negroes and 
8 white men are in the State penitentiary, 2 additional white men have been sentenced 
to prison terms, 14 white men have been given jail sentences, 27 white men, including 
the former night chief of police and three policemen, have pleaded guilty to rioting 
and have been punished. 

' This statement is based mainly upon the report of this special committee appointed 
by Congress to investigate the East St. Louis riots and upon the stenographic report of the 
testimony taken by it. This testimony, comprising 6,000 typewritten pages, was placed at 
the disposal of the Commission through the courtesy of the chairman of the Committee, 
Representative Ben Johnson, of Kentucky, and the interest and co-operation of Representative 
James R. Mann, of Illinois. 


These convictions were obtained in the face of organized, determined effort, 
backed with abundant funds, to head off the prosecutions and convictions. In the 
case of Mayor MoUman there seems to have been an open, paid advertising campaign 
to slander and intimidate the attorney general. 

The burned area of the city was on Fifth Street, Broadway, Walnut Street, 
Eighth Street, Eleventh Street and Bond Avenue, as well as "the Flats" on 
Seventh Street, between Division and Missouri avenues. This latter area 
was that occupied by Negroes. There were 312 buildings and forty-four 
railroad cars totally or partially destroyed, with a total loss of $393,600. 

The riots in East St. Louis may be traced, more or less directly, to a 
nimiber of causes, the influence of each being apparent. 

Without doubt conditions resulting from the migration of a large number 
of Negroes from the South, a movement which was more or less general at 
that time, account in large measure for the riots, but also involved in it all 
are the facts that there had been industrial friction, and that the city was 
flagrantly misgoverned. 

The Congressional Committee observed an effort to shift the blame from 
one element to another. The labor interests sought to place responsibility 
for the riots upon the employers, who, they said, had brought great numbers 
of Negroes to East St. Louis in order that they might more readily dominate 
the employment situation. The employers, on the other hand, thought the 
blame rested upon the city and county administration because of laxity in law 
enforcement, exploitation of Negroes for political purposes, and all sorts of 
political corruption, including the "protection" of vice and crime. The 
political ring sought to dodge responsibility by emphasizing economic and 
industrial causes of the outbreak. 

Whatever may have been the conditions resulting from the influx of 
Negroes, they were undoubtedly actuated by a desire to improve their condi- 
tion. Some 10,000 or 12,000 Negroes had come to St. Clair County from the 
South during the winter of 1916-17. During the year and a half preceding 
the riot, the number of such migrants was estimated at 18,000, although it 
was reported that many had returned during the winter of 191 6-1 7, because 
of the unaccustomed cold climate. It is certain that this influx severely 
taxed the housing accommodations of East St. Louis, which were of the insani- 
tary and inadequate nature that so often characterizes urban districts in which 
the Negroes find that they must live. The report of the Congressional Com- 
mittee on this point says: 

It is a lamentable fact that the employers of labor paid too little heed to the com- 
fort or welfare of their men. They saw them crowded into wretched cabins without 
water or any of the conveniences of Ufe, their wives and children condemned to live in 
the disreputable quarters of the towa, and made no effort to lift them out of the mire. 
The Negroes gravitated to the insanitary sections, existed in the squalor of filthy 
cabins and made no complaint, but the white workmen had a higher outlook, and 


failure to provide them with better homes added to their bitter dissatisfaction with 
the burdens placed upon them by having to compete with black labor. 

It is likewise in evidence that special inducements were offered to the 
southern Negroes to come to East St. Louis, as well as to other industrial 
centers in the North. Advertisements were placed in southern newspapers, 
offering employment at wages far in excess of those paid in the South. Low 
railroad rates were offered, and in some instances during this general migration 
the railroads are said to have transported Negroes free in order that they might 
be employed by the railroads. Failures of crops in the South, floods and ill 
treatment of Negroes there, coupled with the hope that they would find 
fairer treatment in the North, as well as better wages and living conditions, 
were the direct causes of migration. After this had become fairly general 
it was further stimulated by Negroes who had come North, and who wrote 
home painting northern conditions in glowing colors. 

From the industrial point of view it should be noted that in the summer 
of 191 6 there had been a strike of 4,000 white men in the packing-plants of 
East St. Louis. It was asserted that Negroes were used in these plants as 
strike breakers. A report on the Negro migration by the United States 
Department of Labor states that when the strike was ended Negroes were still 
employed, and some of the white men lost their positions. It says further: 
"The white leaders undoubtedly realized that the effectiveness of striking was 
materially lessened by this importation of black workers." 

Furthermore, it is stated in the report of the Congressional Committee 
that the Aluminum Ore Company, during a strike, brought hundreds of Negroes 
to the city as strike breakers in order to defeat organized labor, "a precedent 
which aroused intense hatred and antagonism, and caused countless tragedies 
as its aftermath. The feeling of resentment grew with each succeeding day. 
White men walked the streets in idleness and their families suffered for food 
and warmth and clothes, while their places as laborers were taken by strange 
Negroes who were compelled to live in hovels and who were used to keep 
down wages." 

In May, 191 7, a strike followed demands which had been made upon the 
Aluminum Ore Company by the "Aluminum Ore Employees' Protective 
Association." These related to alleged injustices and discriminations said 
to have been practiced against the employees. The company failed to comply 
with these demands, and a thousand white workers struck. 

Closely related to this situation was a notice sent to the delegates of the 
Central Trades Labor Union by the secretary of the Union, dated May 23, 
which declared that the immigration of the southern Negro had reached a 
point where "drastic action must be taken if we intend to work and to live 
peaceably in this community." This notice declared that these men were 
being used " to the detriment of our white citizens by some of the capitalists 
and a few real estate owners." It called a meeting to present to the mayor 


and city council a demand for action to "retard this growing menace, and also 
devise a way to get rid of a certain portion of those who are already here." 
The notice read further: "This is not a protest against the Negro who has 
long been a resident of East St. Louis, and is a law abiding citizen." 

This meeting was held on May 28 in the auditorium of the city hall and 
was attended not only by the labor men but also by a large number of other 
persons. The Congressional Committee refers to one of the speakers at this 
meeting as "an attorney of some ability and no character." The report of 
the Committee says that he virtually advised the killing of Negroes and 
burning of their homes. The report says further: 

He was not authorized to speak for those who went there to protest against the 
lawlessness which disgraced the city and the presence of thousands of Negroes who it 
is clauned were taking the places of the white workmen, but his inflammatory speech 

caused many of his hearers to rush into the street and to resort to acts of violence 

He was in full sympathy with the action of the mob. They followed his advice and 
the scenes of murder and arson that ensued were the logical result of his utterances. 

That night, May 28, following the meeting, a crowd of white people 
assembled in front of the police station and clamored for Negro prisoners. 
A rumor circulated through the crowd that a white man had just been killed 
by Negroes, and parts of the crowd left, forming a mob which severely beat 
a number of Negroes whom it met. The situation was so serious that the mayor 
called for troops. The trouble subsided, however. It is important to note 
that from this time until the riot of July 1-2, no effort was made to strengthen 
the police force nor were any other steps taken to control the situation. 

In connection with the industrial phase of the situation, it should be 
remembered that the war had cut o£f the normal supply of foreign labor, and 
that not a few white workers had left East St. Louis for other industrial centers. 
Most of the Negro migrants were unskilled workers, and their competition 
was, therefore, with the unskilled white workers. One witness before the 
Congressional Committee expressed the view that the labor shortage in East 
St. Louis prior to the riot certainly did not justify the great influx of Negroes, 
but it is of record that most of the newcomers got profitable employment in 
unskilled occupations. 

The employers were fighting unions of any sort, whether of whites or 
Negroes. Unions were seeking membership of Negroes as well as whites in 
the hope that the use of Negroes as strike breakers might be prevented. 
Whether union men or not, the white workers resented the influx of Negro 
workers who might take their jobs. The inevitable consequence was friction 
between whites and Negroes. 

The Congressional Committee laid great stress upon corrupt politics as 
the leading cause of the riots of July 2. It disclosed an almost unbelievable 
combination of shameless corruption, tolerance of vice and crime, maladminis- 
tration, and debauchery of the courts. The report says that East St. Louis 


for many years was a plague spot, harboring within its borders "every offense 
in the calendar of crime" and committing openly ''every lapse in morals and 
public decency." Politicians looted its treasury, gave away valuable fran- 
chises, and elected plunderers to high office. Graft, collusion with crime and 
vice, and desecration of office were openly and deliberately practiced. Crimi- 
nals were attracted and welcomed, and the good people of the community 
were powerless. Owners of large corporations and manufacturers pitted white 
against black labor, giving no thought to their thousands of workmen living 
in hovels, the victims of "poverty and disease, of long hours and incessant 

The mayor, continues the report, was a tool of dishonest politicians, the 
electorate was " debauched, " the police were a conscienceless bunch of grafters, 
and the revenue of the city was largely derived from saloons and dens of vice. 

Several officials and politicians of high standing were singled out by the 
Committee for especial condemnation as the "brains of the city's corruption." 

A great deal of the city's crime and vice was concentrated in what is known 
as "Black Valley." This was the section in which the Negroes lived, but 
much of the vice and crime was promoted and practiced by vicious whites. 
There was much mixing of whites and Negroes in the vilest practices. 

Similar conditions existed in the town of Brooklyn near by, with about 
3,000 people, of whom only about fifty were white. Its dens of iniquity were 
notorious and were the resort of many white people. So openly operated 
were these resorts that the Congressional Committee reported that in the 
Brooklyn high school " 24 out of 25 girls who were in the graduating class 
went to the bad in the saloons and dance halls and failed to receive their 

Not only were conditions of this sort demoralizing and degrading for the 
decent Negroes, but the sanitary conditions were likewise extremely bad. 
Some of the houses in the Negro districts had not been painted for fifteen 
years and were in a state of great disrepair. Their setting consisted largely 
of pools of stagnant water and beds of weeds. At one period during the 
migration Negroes were coming in so fast that even these miserable housing 
conditions were inadequate, and some of them were forced to live in sheds. 
In one instance sixty-nine newcomers were found living in one small house. 
Whenever houses were vacated by white people and rented to Negroes, the 
rental price was largely increased, sometimes doubled. 

After reviewing the corruption in East St. Louis, the report of the Congres- 
sional Committee discussed the riot. It described the condition of affairs 
on the night of July i, 191 7, when the second and most serious outbreak 
occurred. An automobile (some witnesses said two) went through the Negro 
section of the city, its occupants firing promiscuously into homes. This aroused 
fierce resentment among the Negroes, who organized for defense and armed 
themselves with guns. The rmging of the church bell, a prearranged signal 


for assembling, drew a crowd of them, and they marched through the streets 
ready to avenge the attack. A second automobile filled with white men 
crossed their path. The Negroes cursed them, commanded them to drive on, 
and fired a volley into the machine. The occupants, however, were not the 
rioters but policemen and reporters. One policeman was killed and another 
was so seriously wounded that he died later. 

Thousands viewed the riddled car standing before police headquarters. 
The early editions of the newspapers gave full accounts of the tragedy, and 
on July 2 the rioting began. Negro mobs shot white men, and white men 
and boys, girls and women, began to attack every Negro in sight. News 
spread rapidly and, as excitement increased, unimaginable depredations and 
horrible tortures were committed and viewed with "placid unconcern" by 
hundreds. Negro men were stabbed, clubbed, and hanged from telephone 
poles. Their homes were burned. Women and children were not spared. 
An instance is given of a Negro child two years old which was shot and thrown 
into a doorway of a burning building. 

On the night of July i. Mayor Mollman telephoned to the Adjutant 
General of Illinois saying that the police were no longer able to handle the 
situation and requesting that the militia be sent. Both the police and the 
militia are severely censured by the Congressional report for gross failure to 
do their duty. The police, says the report, could have quelled the riot instantly, 
but instead they either "fled into the safety of cowardly seclusion or listlessly 
watched the depredations of the mob, passively and in many instances actively 
sharing in the work." 

In all, five companies of the Illinois National Guard were sent to East 
St. Louis. Some of them arrived on the morning of July 2, the first at 
8:40 A.M. These forces were in command of Colonel S. O. Tripp. Concern- 
ing the conduct of the militia, the Congressional Committee reported in strong 
terms, singling out Colonel Tripp for especial condemnation. It said that he 
was a hindrance instead of a help to the troops; that "he was ignorant of 
his duties, blind to his responsibilities and deaf to every intelligent appeal 
that was made to him." 

The troops, in the estimation of the Committee, were poorly officered 
and in only a few cases did their duty. The report states that " they seemed 
moved by the same spirit of indifference or cowardice that marked the conduct 
of the police force. As a rule they fraternized with the mob, joked with them 
and made no serious effort to restrain them." 

Many instances are given of active participation and encouragement of 
the mob in its murders, arson, and general destruction. 

The only redeeming feature of the activities of the militia, according to 
the Congressional Committee, was " the conduct, bravery, and skill of the officer 
second in command, whose promptness and determination prevented the mob 
from committing many more atrocities." 


By eight o'clock of the evening of July 2 there were seventeen officers and 
270 men on duty, and by July 4 the force had increased to thirty-seven officers 
and 1,411 men. On the evening of July 2 the fury of the mob had spent itself, 
and the riot subsided. 

The behavior of the troops was condemned not only by the Congressional 
Committee but by citizens generally, and a special inquiry was made into their 
conduct by the Military and Naval Department of the State of Illinois, 
Witnesses to dereliction on duty on the part of the soldiers were examined 
and commanding officers of troops were asked to testify and explain specific 
acts of violence and neglect of duty. In all seventy-nine persons were examined. 
Although the charges against the soldiers in a large number of cases were serious 
and sufficient to warrant the criticism which they received, identification of 
individuals guilty of these acts was difficult. This probably accounts for 
the fact that only seven court-martials resulted from the inquiry. The com- 
manding officer, though severely censured by the Congressional Committee, 
was exonerated by this inquiry. 



During the period 1916-18 approximately a half-million Negroes suddenly 
moved from southern to northern states. This movement, however, was not 
without a precedent. A similar migration occurred in 1879, when Negroes 
moved from Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, and North 
CaroUna to Kansas. The origin of this earher movement, its causes, and 
manner resemble in many respects the one which has so recently attracted 
public attention. 

The migration of 19 16-18 cannot be separated completely from the steady, 
though inconspicuous, exodus from southern to northern states that has been in 
progress since i860, or, in fact, since the operation of the" underground railway." 
In 1900 there were 911,025 Negroes living in the North, 10.3 per cent of the 
total Negro population, which was then 8,883,994. Census figures for the 
period 1900-1910 show a net loss for southern states east of the Mississippi 
of 595,703 Negroes. Of this number 366,880 are found in northern states. 
ReHable estimates for the last decade place the increase of northern Negro 
population around 500,000. 

The 1910-20 increase of the Negro population of Chicago was from 44,103 
to 109,594, or 148.5 per cent, with a corresponding increase in the white 
population of 21 per cent, including foreign immigration. According to the 
Census Bureau method of estimating natural increase of population, the Negro 
population of Chicago unafifected by the migration would be 58,056 in 1920, 
and the increase by migration alone would be 51,538. 

The relative 1910-20 increases in white and Negro population in typical 
industrial cities of the Middle West, given in Table II, illustrate the effect of 
the migration of southern Negroes. 

The migration to Chicago. — Within a period of eighteen months in 1917-18 
more than 50,000 Negroes came to Chicago according to an estimate based 
on averages taken from actual count of daily arrivals. All of those who came, 
however, did not stay. Chicago was a re-routing point, and many immi- 
grants went on to nearby cities and towns. During the heaviest period, 
for example, a Detroit social agency reported that hundreds of Negroes applying 
there for work stated that they were from Chicago. The tendency appears 
to have been to reach those fields offering the highest present wages and 
permanent prospects. 





of Negro 

of White 




Cincinnati, Ohio 

Dayton, Ohio 

Toledo, Ohio 

Fort Wayne, Ind .... 

Canton, Ohio 

Gary, Ind 












86. s 


Detroit, Mich 

Chicago, 111 



A series of circumstances acting together in an unusual combination both 
provoked and made possible the migration of Negroes from the South on a 
large scale. The causes of the movement fall into definite divisions, even 
as stated by the migrants themselves. For example, one of the most frequent 
causes mentioned by southern Negroes for their change of home is the treatment 
accorded them in the South. Yet this treatment of which they complain 
has been practiced since their emancipation, and fifty years afterward more 
than nine-tenths of the Negro population of the United States still remained 
in the South. "Higher wages" was also commonly stated as a cause of the 
movement, yet thousands came to the North and to Chicago who in the South 
had been earning more in their professions and even in skilled occupations 
than they expected to receive in the North. These causes then divide into 
two main classes: (i) economic causes, (2) sentimental causes. Each has a 
bearing on both North and South. The following statements are based on 
reports prepared by trustworthy agencies during the migration, on letters and 
statements from migrants, Negroes and whites Uving in the South and the 
North, and on family history obtained by the Commission's investigators. 


Low wages. — Wages of Negroes in the South varied from 75 cents a day 
on the farms to $1.75 a day in certain city jobs, in the period just preceding 
1914. The rise in living costs which followed the outbreak of the war out- 
stripped the rise in wages. In Alabama the price paid for day labor in the 
twenty-one "black belt" counties averaged 50 and 60 cents a day. It ranged 
from 40 cents, as a minimum, to 75 cents, and, in a few instances, $1.00 
was a maximum for able-bodied male farm hands.' 

A Negro minister, writing in the Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser, said: 

The Negro farm hand gets for his compensation hardly more than the mule he 

plows; that is, his board and shelter. Some mules fare better than Negroes. This, 

^ Negro migration in 1916-17, U.S. Department oj Labor Report, p. 67. 



too, in spite of the fact that the money received for farm products has advanced 
more than loo per cent. The laborer has not shared correspondingly in this advance. 
High rents and low wages have driven the Negro off the farms. They have no 
encouragement to work. Only here and there you will find a tenant who is getting 
a square deal and the proper encouragement. 

A white man, writing in the same paper, said: 

There is an article in today's Advertiser headed "Exodus of the Negroes to Be 
Probed." Why hunt for a cause when it's plain as the noonday sun the Negro is 
leaving this country for higher wages ? He doesn't want to leave here but he knows 
if he stays here he will starve. They have made no crops, they have nothing to eat, 
no clothes, no shoes, and they can't get any work to do, and they are leaving just as 

fast as they can get away If the Negro race could get work at 50 cents per 

day he would stay here. He don't want to go. He is easily satisfied and will live 
on half rations and wUl never complain. 

The Atlanta Independent, white, said: 

If our white neighbors will treat the Negro kindly, recognizing his rights as a 
man, advance his wages in proportion as the cost of living advances, he will need 
no ordinance nor legislation to keep the Negro here. The South is his natural home. 
He prefers to be here, he loves its traditions, its ideals and its people. But he cannot 
stay here and starve 

When meat was 1 5 cents a pound and flour $8 a barrel, the Negro received from 
$4 to $8 a week. Now meat is 30 cents a pound and flour $16 a barrel, and the Negro 
is receiving the same wages. He cannot live on this and the white man cannot expect 
him to Uve in the South and live on the starvation wages he is paying him, when the 
fields and the factories in the North are offering him living wages. 

The boll weevil. — In 19 15 and 19 16 the boll weevil cotton pest so ravaged 
sections of the South that thousands of farmers were ahnost ruined. Cotton 
crops were lost, and the farmers were forced to change from cotton to food 
products. The growing of cotton requires about thirty times as many "hands " 
as food products. As a result many Negroes were thrown out of employment. 
The damage wrought by the boll weevil was augmented by destructive storms 
and floods, which not only affected crops but made the living conditions of 
Negroes more miserable. 

Lack of capital. — The "credit system" is a very convenient and common 
practice in many parts of the South. Money is borrowed for upkeep until 
the selling season, when it is repaid in one lump sum. The succession of short 
crops and the destruction due to the boll weevil and storms occasioned heavy 
demands for capital to carry labor through the fall and early winter until a 
new crop could be started. There was a shortage of capital, and as a result 
there was little opportunity for work. During this period many white persons 
migrated from sections of the South most seriously affected. 

"Unsatisfactory" living conditions. — The plantation cabins and segregated 
sections in cities where municipal laxity made home surroundings undesirable 
have been stated as another contributing cause of the movement. 



Lack of school facilities. — The desire to place their children in good schools 
was a reason often given by migrants vdth. families for lea\-ing the South. 
School faciUties are described as lamentably poor even by southern whites. 
Perhaps the most thorough statement of these conditions is given in a Study 
of Xegro Education by Thomas Jesse Jones, made under the direction of the 
federal Bureau of Education, and comparing provisions for white and Negro 
children in fifteen southern states and the District of Columbia. He states: 

In the South they [Negroes] form 29.8 per cent of the total population, the 
proportion in ^Mississippi and South Carolina being over 55 per cent and ranging in 
the "black belt" counties from 50 to 90 per cent of the total population. Almost 
3.000.000 are engaged in agricultural pursuits. They form 40.4 per cent of all persons 
engaged in these pursuits in the Southern States. 

Though the United States census shows a decrease in Uliteracy, there are stiU 
about 2,225,000 A'egroes illiterate in the South, or over 2,2> per cent of the Negro 
population ten years of age and over. 


Total population 

Population six to fourteen years of age . . . 

Population sLx to fourteen* 

Teachers" salaries in public schools 

Teachers' salaries per child six to fourteen . 

Per cent of illiteracj^ 

Per cent rural 











§2. 89 


*Iii 1,055 counties. 

In the fifteen states and the District of Columbia for which salaries by race 
could be obtained, the public school teachers received $42,510,431 in salaries. Of 
this sum $36,649,827 was for the teachers of 3,552,431 white children and $5,860,876 
for teachers of 1,852,181 colored children. On a per capita basis, this is $10.32 for 
each white child and $2.89 for each colored child. 


County Groups, Percentage of Negroes 
in the Population 

White School 

Xegro School 

Per Capita 
for White 

Per Capita 
for Xegro 

Counties under 10 per cent 




S 7-96 




22. 22 


Counties 10 to 25 per cent 


3 19 

Counties 50 to 75 per cent 


Counties 75 per cent and over 


The supervisor of white elementary rural schools in one of the states recently 
wrote concerning the Negro schools: 

'T never \isit one of these [Negro] schools without feeling that we are wasting 
a large part of this money and are neglecting a great opportunity. The Negro school- 
houses are miserable beyond aU description. They are usually without comfort, 
equipment, proper lighting, or sanitation. Nearly all of the Negroes of school age 


in the district are crowded into these miserable structures during the short term 
which the school runs. Most of the teachers are absolutely untrained and have been 
given certificates by the coimty board, not because they have passed the examination, 
but because it is necessary to have some kind of a Negro teacher. Among the Negro 
rural schools which I have visited, I have found only one in which the highest class 
knew the multiplication table." 

A state superintendent writes: 

"There has never been any serious attempt in this state to offer adequate educa- 
tional facilities for the colored race. The average length of the term for the state 
is only four months; practically all of the schools are taught in dilapidated churches, 
which, of course, are not equipped with suitable desks, blackboards, and the other 
essentials of a school; practically all of the teachers are incompetent, possessing 
little or no education and having had no professional training whatever, except a few 
weeks obtained in the summer schools; the schools are generally overcrowded, 
some of them having as many as 100 students to the teacher; no attempt is made to 
do more than teach the children to read, write, and figure, and these subjects are 
learned very imperfectly. There are six or eight industrial supervisors financed in 
whole or in part by the Jeanes Fund; most of these teachers are stimulating the 
Negro schools to do very good work upon the practical things of life. A few wide- 
awake Negro teachers not connected with the Jeanes Fund are doing the same thing. 
It can probably be truthfully said that the Negro schools are gradually improving, 
but they are still just about as poor and inadequate as they can be." 

Commenting on the cause of the migration, the Atlanta Constitution, a 
prominent southern white paper, says : 

While mob violence and the falsehood which has been built upon that foundation 
constitutes, perhaps, a strong factor in the migration of the Negroes, there is scarcely 
a doubt that the educational feature enters into it. Negroes induced to go to the 
North undoubtedly beheve they can secure better educational facihties there for their 
children, whether they really succeed in getting them or not. 

Georgia, as well as other southern states, is undoubtedly behind in the matter 
of Negro education, unfair in the matter of facihties, in the quaUty of teachers and 
instructors, and in the pay of those expected to impart proper instruction to Negro 

We have proceeded upon the theory that education would, in his own mind, at 
least, carry the Negro beyond his sphere; that it would give him higher ideas of himself 
and make of him a poorer and less satisfactory workman. That is nonsense 


The cessation of immigration. — Prior to the war the yearly immigration to 
the United States equaled approximately the total Negro population of the 
North. Foreign labor filled the unskilled labor field, and Negroes were held 
closely in domestic and personal-service work. The cessation of immigration 
and the return of thousands of ahens to their mother-country, together with 
the opening of new industries and the extension of old ones, created a much 
greater demand for American labor. Employers looked to the South for 
Negroes and advertised for them. 


High wages. — Wages for unskilled work in the North in 1916 and 1917 
ranged from $3.00 to $8.00 a day. There were shorter hours of work and 
opportunity for overtime and bonuses. 

Living conditions. — Houses available for Negroes in the North, though 
by northern standards classed as unsanitary and unfit for habitation, afforded 
greater comforts than the rude cabins of the plantation. For those who had 
owned homes in the South there was the opportunity of selHng them and 
applying the money to payment for a good home in the North. 

Identical school privileges. — Co-education of whites and Negroes in northern 
schools made possible a higher grade of instruction for the children of migrants.^ 


The causes classed as sentimental include those which have reference to 
the feelings of Negroes concerning their surroundings in the South and their 
reactions to the social systems and practices of certain sections of the South. 
Frequently these causes were given as the source of an old discontent among 
Negroes concerning the South. Frequently they took prominence over 
economic causes, and they were held for the most part by a fairly high class 
of Negroes. These causes are in part as follows: 

Lack of protection from mob violence. — Between 1885 and 1918, 2,881 
Negroes were lynched in the United States, more than 85 per cent of these 
lynchings occurring in the South. In 1917, 2,500 Negroes were driven by 
force out of Dawson and Forsythe counties, Georgia." 

The Chicago Urban League reported that numbers of migrants from towns 
where lynchings had occurred registered for jobs in Chicago very shortly 
after lynchings. Concerning mob violence and general insecurity both whites 
and Negroes hving in the South have had much to say. Their statements 
at the time of the migration are here quoted. 

From the Atlanta Constitution (white), November 24, 1916: 

Current dispatches from Albany, Georgia, in the center of the section apparently 
most affected, and where efforts are being made to stop the exodus by spreading 
correct information among the Negroes, say: 

The heaviest migration of Negroes has been from those counties in which there 
have been the worst outbreaks against Negroes. It is developed by investigation that 
where there have been lynchings, the Negroes have been most eager to believe what 
the emigration agents have told them of plots for the removal or extermination of the 
race. Comparatively few Negroes have left Dougherty County, which is considered 
significant in view of the fact that this is one of the counties in southwest Georgia 
in which a lynching has never occurred. 

These statements are most significant. Mob law as we have known in Georgia 
has furnished emigration agents with aU the leverage they want; it is a foundation 
upon which it is easy to build with a well concocted lie or two, and they have not 
been slow to take advantage of it. 

* See "Contacts in Public Schools." ' Colored Missions, January, 1921. 


This loss of her best labor is another penalty Georgia is paying for her indifference 
and inactivity in suppressing mob law. 

From the Southwestern Christian Advocate (Negro), April 26, 1917: 
But why do they [the Negroes] go ? We give a concrete answer: some months 
ago Anthony Crawford, a highly respectable, honest and industrious Negro, with a 
good farm and holdings estimated to be worth $300,000, was lynched in Abbeville, 
South Carolina. He was guilty of no crime. He would not be cheated out of his 
cotton. That was insolence. He must be taught a lesson. When the mob went 
for him he defended himself. They overpowered him and brutally lynched him. 
This murder was without excuse and was condemned in no uncertain words by the 
Governor, other high officials and the press in general of South Carolina, Officials 
pledged that the lynchers would be punished. The case went to the grand jury. 
Mr. Crawford was lynched in the daytime and dragged through the streets by 
unmasked men. The names of the leaders were supposed to have been known, and 
yet the grand jury, under oath, says that it could not find sufficient evidence to warrant 

an indictment 

Is any one surprised that Negroes are leaving South Carolina by the thousands ? 
The wonder is that any of them remain. They will suffer in the North. Some of 
them will die. But Anthony Crawford did not get a chance to die in Abbeville, 
South Carolina. He was shamefully murdered. Any place would be paradise 
compared with some sections of the South where the Negroes receive such maltreat- 

From the Savannah (Georgia) Morning News (white), January 3, 191 7: 
Another cause is the feeling of insecurity. The lack of legal protection in the 
country is a constant nightmare to the colored people who are trying to accumulate 
a comfortable little home and farm. There is scarcely a Negro mother in the country 
who does not live in dread and fear that her husband or son may come in unfriendly 
contact with some white person as to bring the lynchers or the arresting officers to 
her door which may result in the wiping out of her entire family. It must be acknowl- 
edged that this is a sad condition 

The Southern white man ought to be wilhng to give the Negro a man's chance 
without regard to his race or color, give him at least the same protection of law given 
to anyone else. If he will not do this, the Negro must seek those North or West, 
who will give him better wages and better treatment, I hope, however, that this 
will not be necessary. 

Injustice in the courts. — An excerpt from one of the newspapers of that 
period illustrates the basis of this cause: 

While our very solvency is being sucked out from underneath we go out about 
affairs as usual — our police officers raid poolrooms for "loafing Negroes," bring in 
twelve, keep them in the barracks all night, and next morning find that many of them 
have steady, regular jobs, valuable assets to their white employers, suddenly left and 
gone to Cleveland, "where they don't arrest fifty niggers for what three of 'em done" 
[Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser (white), September 21, 1916]. 

Inferior transp oration facilities. — This refers to "Jim Crow cars," a par- 
titioned section of one railway car, usually the baggage car, and partitioned 


sections of railway waiting-rooms, poorly kept, bearing signs, "For colored 
only." This dissatisfaction is expressed in part in the following comment 
of a Negro presiding elder, wTiting in the Macon (Georgia) Ledger, a white 
paper : 

The petty ofienses, which you mention, are far more numerous than you are 
aware of, besides other unjust treatments enacted daily on the streets, street cars 
and trains. Our women are inhumanly treated by some conductors, both on the street 
cars and trains. \\Tiite men are often found in compartments for Negroes smoking ^ 
and if anything is said against it they who speak are insulted, or the car is purposely 
fiUed with big puffs of smoke and the conductor's reply is, "He'll quit to-rectly." 
Recently a white man entered a trailer for Negroes with two little dogs. One of the 
dogs went between the seats and crouched by a woman; she pushed him from her 
and the white man took both dogs and set them aside her and she was forced to ride 
with them. This is one of the many, many acts of injustice which often result in a 
row for which the Negro has to pay the penalty. These things are driving the Negro 
from the South. 

Other causes stated are (a) the deprivation of the right to vote, (b) the 
''rough-handed" and unfair competition of "poor whites," (c) persecution by 
petty ofl&cers of the law, and (d) the "persecution of the Press." 


The enormous proportions to which the exodus grew obscure its beginning. 
Several experiments had been tried with southern labor in the Northeast, 
particularly in the Cormecticut tobacco fields and in Pennsylvania. In 
Connecticut, Negro students from the southern schools had been employed 
during siunmers with great success. Early in 1916, industries in Pennsylvania 
imported many Negroes from Georgia and Florida. During July one railroad 
company stated that it had brought to Pennsylvania more than 13,000 Negroes. 
They wrote back for their friends and families, and from the points to which 
they had been brought they spread out into new and "labor slack" territories. 
Once begun, this means of recruiting labor was used by hard-pressed 
industries in other sections of the North. The reports of high wages, of the 
unexpected welcome of the North, and of unusually good treatment accorded 
Negroes spread throughout the South from Georgia and Florida to Texas. 

The stimuli of suggestion and hysteria gave the migration an almost 
religious significance, and it became a mass movement. Letters, rumors, 
Negro newspapers, gossip, and other forms of social control operated to add 
volume and enthusiasm to the exodus. Songs and poems of the period charac- 
terized the migration as the "Flight Out of Egypt," "Bound for the Promised 
Land," "Going into Canaan," "The Escape from Slavery," etc. 

The first movement was from Southeast to Northeast, following main 
lines of transportation. Soon, however, it became known that the Middle 
West was similarly in need of men. Many industries advertised for southern 
Negroes in Negro papers. The federal Department of Labor for a period was 


instrumental in transporting Negroes from the South to relieve the labor 
shortage in other sections of the country, but discontinued such efforts when 
southern congressmen pointed out that the South's labor supply was being 
depleted. It was brought out in the East St. Louis riot inquiry that plants 
there had advertised in Texas newspapers for Negro laborers. 

Chicago was the logical destination of Negroes from Mississippi, Arkansas, 
Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, because of the more direct railway Unes, the 
way in which the city had become known in these sections through its two 
great mail-order houses, the Stock Yards, and the packing-plants with their 
numerous storage houses scattered in various towms and cities of the South. 
It was riunored in these sections that the Stock Yards needed 50,000 men; 
it was said that temporary housing was being provided by these hard-pressed 
industries. Many Negroes came to the city on free transportation, but by far 
the greater mmibers paid their own fare. Club rates offered by the railroads 
brought the fare within reach of many who ordinarily could not have brought 
their famihes or even come themselves. The organization into clubs composed 
of from ten to fifty persons from the same conununity had the effect, on the 
one hand, of adding the stimulus of intimate persuasion to the movement, and, 
on the other hand, of concentrating soUd groups in congested spots in Chicago. 

A study of certain Negro periodicals shows a powerful influence on southern 
Negroes already in a state of unsettlement over news of the "opening up of 
the North." 

The Chicago Defender became a "herald of glad tidings" to southern 
Negroes. Several cities attempted to prevent its circulation among their 
Negro population and confiscated the street- and store-sales supplies as fast 
as they came. Negroes then rehed upon subscription copies dehvered through 
the mails. There are reports of the clandestine circulation of copies of the 
paper in bundles of merchandise. A correspondent of the Defender wrote: 
"White people are paying more attention to the race in order to keep them in 
the South, but the Chicago Defender has emblazoned upon their minds 'Bound 
for the Promised Land.'" 

In GuLfport, IMississippi, it was stated, a man was regarded "inteUigent" 
if he read the Defender, and in Laurel, Mississippi, it was said that old men 
who had never known how to read, bought the paper simply because it was 
regarded as precious.^ 

Articles and headlines carrying this special appeal which appeared in the 
Defender are quoted: 

Why Should the Negro Stay in the South? 
west indians live north 
It is true the South is nice and warm, and may I add, so is China, and we find 
Chinamen h\dng in the North, East, and West. So is Japan, but the Japanese are 
Uving everywhere. 

' Johnson, Migration to Chicago. 



^^^lile in Arkansas a member of the school board in one of the cities of that state 
(and it is said it is the rule throughout the South that a Race woman teacher to hold 
her school must be on friendly terms with some one of them) Uved openly with a 
Race woman, and the entire Race, men and women, were afraid to protest or stop 
their children from going to school, because this school board member would get up 
a mob and run them out of the state. They must stomach this treatment. 


To die from the bite of frost is far more glorious than that of the mob. I beg 
of you, my brothers . to leave that benighted land. You are free men. Show the worid 
that you will not let false leaders lead you. Your neck has been in the yoke. Will 
you continue to keep it there because some "white folks Nigger" wants you to? 
Leave to all quarters of the globe. Get out of the South. Your being there in the 
numbers you are gives the southern poUdcian too strong a hold on your progress. 


Txim a deaf ear to everv'body. You see they are not Ufting their laws to help 
you, are they ? Have they stopped their Jim Crow cars? Can you buy a PuUman 
sleeper where you wish ? Will they give you a square deal in court yet ? WTien a 
girl is sent to prison, she becomes the mistress of the guards and others in authority, 
and women prisoners are put on the streets to work, something they don't do to a 
white woman. And your leaders will tell you the South is the best place for you. 
Turn a deaf ear to the scoundrel, and let him stay. Above all, see to it that that 
jumping-jack preacher is left at the South, for he means you no good here at the North. 


Oti^ of our dear southern friends informs an anxious public that "the Negroes of 
the North seem to fit ver>' well into their occupations and locations, but the southern 
Negro will never make a success in the North. He doesn't understand the methods 
there, the people and the work are wholly unsuited to him. Give him a home in 
the South where climatic conditions blend into his peculiar physical makeup, where 
he is understood and can understand, and let him have a master and you have given 
him the ideal home." There is the solution of the problem in a nutshell. This dear 
friend thinks that under a master back of the sugar cane and cotton fields, we might 
really be worth something to the world. How thoughtful to point out the way for 
our stumbling feet. 

Those who Uve in the North presumably always lived there, and, like Topsy, 
they "just growed" in that section, so naturally fit well into their occupations. 
There is such a difference between the white man and the black man of the South; 
the former can travel to the North Pole if he chooses without being affected, the latter, 
"they say" will die of a million dread diseases if he dares to leave Dixie land, and yet 
the thousands who have migrated North in the past year look as well and hearty 
as they ever did. Something is wrong in our friend's calcularions. 

We hear again and again of our " peailiar physical makeup." Is there something 
radically different about us that is not found in other people ? Why the constant 
fear of Negro supremacj- if the white brain is more active and intelligent than the 
brain found in the colored man ? A good lawyer never fears a poor one in a court 


battle — he knows that he has him bested from the start. The fact that we have 
made good wherever and whenever given an opportunity, we admit, is a little dis- 
quieting, but it is a way we have, and is hard to get out of. Once upon a time we 
permitted other people to think for us — today we are thinking and acting for ourselves, 
with the result that our "friends" are getting alarmed at our progress. We'd like 
to obHge these unselfish ( ?) souls and remain slaves in the South, but to other sections 
of the country we have said, as the song goes: "I hear you calling me, " and boarded 
the train singing, "Good-by to Dixie-Land." 

News articles in the Defender kept alive the enthusiasm and fervor of the 


Tampa, Fla., Jan. 19. — J. T. King, supposed to be a race leader, is using his 
wits to get on the good side of the white people by calling a meeting to urge our 
people not to migrate North. King has been termed a "good nigger " by his pernicious 
activity on the emigration question. Reports have been received here that all who 
have gone North are at work and pleased with the splendid conditions in the North. 
It is kno-R-n here that in the North there is a scarcity of labor, mills and factories 
are open to them. People are not paying any attention to King and are packing 
and ready to travel North to the "promised land." 


Jackson, [Miss., March 23. — ^Although the white police and sheriff and others 
are using every effort to intimidate the citizens from going North, even Dr. Redmond's 
speech was circulated around, this has not deterred our people from leaving. !Many 
have walked miles to take the train for the North. There is a determination to leave 
and there is no hand save death to keep them from it. 


J. H. Thomas, Birmingham, Ala., Bro-wnsviUe Colony, has been here several 
weeks and is very much pleased with the North. He is working at the Pullman 
shops, making twice as much as he did at home. ]Mr. Thomas says the "exodus" 
will be greater later on in the year, that he did not find four feet of snow or would 
freeze to death. He lives at 346 East Thirty-fifth St. 


Huntsville, Ala., Jan. 19. — Fifteen famihes, aU members of the Race, left here 
today for Pittsburgh, Pa., where they will take positions as butlers, and maids, 
getting sixty to seventy -five dollars per month, against fifteen and twenty paid here, 
Most of them claim that they have letters from their friends who went early and made 
good, saying that there was plenty of work, and this field of labor is short, owing to 
the vast amount of men having gone to Europe and not returned. 


Some are coming on the passenger, 
Some are coming on the freight. 
Others wiU be found walking. 
For none have time to wait. 


Other headlines read: "Thousands Leave Memphis"; "Still Planning 
to Come North"; "Northbound Their Cry." These articles are especially 
interesting for the impelling power of the suggestion of a great mass move- 

Denunciation of the South. — The idea that the South is a bad place, unfit 
for the habitation of Negroes, was "played up" and emphasized by the Defender. 
Conditions most distasteful to Negroes were given first prominence. In this 
it had a clear field, for the local southern Negro papers dared not make such 
unrestrained utterances. Articles of this type appeared: 


Forest City, Ark., Feb. i6. — 'David B. Smith (white) is on trial for life for the 
brutal murder of a member of the Race, W. H. Winford, who refused to be whipped 
like others. This white man had the habit of making his "slave" submit to this 
sort of punishment and when Winford refused to stand for it, he was whipped to 
death with a "black snake" whip. The trial of Smith is attracting very Kttle atten- 
tion. As a matter of fact, the white people here think nothing of it as the dead man 
is a "nigger." 

This very act, coupled with other recent outrages that have been heaped upon 
our people, are causing thousands to leave, not waiting foi the great spring movement 
in May. 

The Defender had a favorite columnist, W. Allison Sweeney. His specialty 
was "breaking southerners and 'white folks' niggers on the wheel." One of 
his articles in the issue of June 23, 191 7, was captioned: "A Chicago 'Nigger' 
Preacher, a 'Feeder,' of The 'Little Hells,' Springs up to Hinder Our Brethren 
Coming North." 

A passage from this article will illustrate the temper of his writings. Aroused 
by what he calls a "white folks nigger," he remarks: 

Such a creature has recently been called to my attention, and for the same 
reason that an unchecked rat has been known to jeopardize the life of a great ship, 
a mouse's nibble of a match to set a mansion aflame, I've concluded to carve a 

"Slice of liver or two" 

from that bellowing ass, who, at this very moment no doubt, somewhere in the South, 
is going up and down the land, telling the natives why they should be content, as the 
Tribune, puts it, to become "Russianized," to remain in that land — to them — of 
blight; oi murdered Wn, deflowered viouisinhooil, wrecked homes, strangled a.Tn.hitions, 
make-believe schools, j-oz/mg "gun parties," midnight arrests, rifled virgmity , trumped 
up charges, lonely graves, where owls hoot, and where friends dare not go! Do you 
wonder at the thousands leaving the land where every foot of ground marks a tragedy, 
leaving the grave of their fathers and all that is dear, to seek their fortunes in the 
North? And you who say that their going is to seek better wages are insulting 
truth, dethroning reason, and consoling yourself with a groundless allegation. 

Retaliation. — In answer to the warnings of the South against the rigors of 
the northern winters, articles of this nature appeared: 



So much has been said through the white papers in the South about the members 
of the race freezing to death in the North. They freeze to death down South when 
they don't take care of themselves. There is no reason for any human staying in 
the Southland on this bugaboo handed out by the white press, when the following 
clippings are taken from the same journals: 


Albany, Ga., Feb. 8. — ^Yesterday the dead body of Peter Crowder, an old Negro, 
was found in an out-of-the-way spot where he had been frozen to death during the 
recent cold snap [from the Macon (Georgia) Telegraph]. 


Spartanburg, Feb. 6. — Marshall Jackson, a Negro man, who lived on the farm of 
J. T. Harris near Campobello Sunday night froze to death [from the South Carolina 


Coldest weather of the last four years claimed a victim Friday night, when 
Archie Williams, a Negro, was frozen to death in his bed in a little hut in the outskirts 
of Gretna [from the New Orleans Item, dated Feb. 4th]. 


Harriet Tolbert, an aged Negro woman, was frozen to death in her home at 18 
Garibaldi Street early Monday morning during the severe cold [Atlanta (Ga.) Consti- 
tution, dated Feb. 6]. 

If you can freeze to death in the North and be free, why freeze to death in the 
South and be a slave, where your mother, sister, and daughter are raped and burned 
at stake, where your father, brother and son are treated with contempt and hung to 
a pole, riddled with bullets at the least mention that he does not like the way he has 
been treated ? 

Come North then, all of you folks, both good and bad. If you don't behave 
yourself up here, the jaUs will certainly make you wish you had. For the hard working 
man there is plenty of work — if you really want it. The Defender says come. 

Still in another mood: 


Alexandria, La., Sept. 29. — Joe Pace (white) a southern workman, who had a 
way of bulldozing members of the Race employed by the EHzabeth Lumber Company, 
met his match here last Saturday night. 

Pace got into one of his moods and kicked a fellow named Israel. Israel deter- 
mined to get justice some way and knowing that the courts were only for white men 
in this part of the country, he took a shot at Pace and his aim was good. 

Another type of article appeared. In keeping with the concept of the 
South as a bad place for Negroes, their escape from it under exceptional 
circumstances was given unique attention. Thus, there were reported the 
following kind of cases. 


Saved from the South 
Lawyers Save Another from Being Taken South 

Saved from the South 
Charged with Murder, but His Release Is Secured by Habeas Corpus 

New Scheme to Keep Race Men in Dixie Land 

A piece of poetry which received widespread popularity appeared in the 
Defender under the title "Bound for the Promise Land." Other published 
poems expressing the same sentiment were: " Farewell, We're Good and Gone "; 
"Northward Bound"; "The Land of Hope." 

Five young men were arraigned before Judge E. Schwartz for reading poetry. 
The police claim they were inciting riot in the city and over Georgia. Two of the men 
were sent to Brown farm for thirty days, a place not fit for human beings. Tom 
Amaca was arrested for having "Bound for the Promise Land, " a poem published in 
the Defender several months ago. J. N. Chislom and A. A. Walker were arrested 
because they were said to be the instigators of the movement of the race to the North, 
where work is plentiful and better treatment is given. 

The ^^ Great Northern Drive.'' — The setting of definite dates was another 
stimulus. The "Great Northern Drive" was scheduled to begin May 15, 
1917. This date, or the week following, corresponds with the date of the 
heaviest arrivals in the North, the period of greatest temporary congestion 
and awakening of the North to the presence of the new arrivals. Letters to 
the Chicago Defender and to social agencies in the North informed them of 
many Negroes who were preparing to come in the " Great Drive." The follow- 
ing letter tells its own story: 

April 24th, 1 91 7 
Mr. R. S. Abbot 

Sir: I have been reading the Defender for one year or more and last February 
I read about the Great Northern Drive to take place May 15th on Thursday and 
now I can hear so many people speaking of an excursion to the North on the 15 th 
of May for $3.00. My husband is in the North already working, and he wants us 
to come up in May, so I want to know if it is true about the excursion. I am getting 
ready and oh so many others also, and we want to know is that true so we can be in 
the Drive. So please answer at once. We are getting ready. 


Usually the dates set were for Wednesday and Saturday nights, following 
pay days. 

It is probably no exaggeration to say that the Defender's policy prompted 
thousands of restless Negroes to venture North, where they were assured of 
its protection and championship of their cause. Many migrants in Chicago 
attribute their presence in the North to the Defender's encouraging pictures 
of relief from conditions at home with which they became increasingly dis- 
satisfied as they read. 



i i i' 




! 1 ! 





At the time of the migration the great majority of Negroes in Chicago 
lived in a limited area on the South Side, principally between Twent}--5econd 
and Thirty-ninth streets, Wentworth Avenue and State Street, and in scattered 
groups to Cottage Grove Avenue on the east. State Street was the main 
thoroughfare. Prior to the influx of southern Negroes, many houses stood 
vacant in the section west of State Street, from which Negroes had moved 
when better houses became available east of State Street. Into these old and 
frequently almost uninhabitable houses the first newcomers moved. Because 
of its proximit\' to the old \-ice area this district had an added undesirabihty 
for old Chicagoans. The newcomers, however, were unacquainted with its 
reputation and had no hesitanc\- about mo\ing in until better homes coiild 
be secured. As the number of arrivals increased, a scarcity of houses followed, 
creating a problem of acute congestion. 

During the summer of 1917 the Chicago Urban League made a canvass 
of real estate dealers supph-ing houses for Negroes, and found that in a single 
day there were 664 Negro apphcants for houses, and only nity houses avail- 
able. In some instances as many as ten persons were listed for a single house. 
This condition did not continue long. There were counted thirt\--six new neigh- 
borhoods, formerly white, opening up to Negroes within three months. 

At the same time rents increased from 5 to 30 and sometimes as much as 
50 per cent. A more detailed study of H\*ing conditions among the early migrants 
in Chicago was made by the Chicago School of Ci\'ics and Philanthropy. 
The inquin,- included sevent\--five families of less than a year's residence. 
In the group were sist^' married couples, 128 children, eight women, nine 
married men with families in the South. Of these migrants fortA--five families 
came from rural and thirt>--two from urban locahties. The greatest number, 
twenty-nine, came from Alabama; twent}--five were from Mississippi, eleven 
from Louisiana, five from Georgia, four from Arkansas, two from Tennessee, 
and one from Florida. Fort\'-one of these seventA'-five families were each 
U\lng in one room. These rooms were rented by the week, thus making possible 
an easy change of home at the first opportunity-. 

It was at this period that the greatest excitement over the ■"incoming 
hordes of Negroes'' prevailed. 

A significant feature was the large number of young children found. The 
age distribution of 128 children in these seventy-five famihes was fort>--seven 
under seven years, fort\'-one between seven and fourteen years, and forty 
over fourteen years. 

Most of these children were of school age and had come from districts in 
the South which pro\"ided few school facilities. The parents were unaccustomed 
to the requirements of northern schools in matters of discipline, attendance, 
and scholarship. Considerable difficult}- was experienced by teachers, parents, 
and children in these first stages of adjustment. 




Meeting actual conditions of life in Chicago brought its exaltations and 
disillusionments to the migrants. These were reflected in the schools, public 
amusement places, industry, and the street cars. The Chicago Urban League, 
Negro churches, and Negro newspapers assumed the task of making the 
migrants into "city folk." The increase in church membership indicates 
prompt efforts to re-engage in community life and establish agreeable and 
helpful associations. It also reflects the persistence of reUgious life among 
the migrants. This increase is shown in Table V. 

Adjustment to new conditions was taken up by the Urban League as its 
principal work. Co-operating with the Travelers Aid Society, United Charities, 
and other agencies of the city, it met the migrants at stations and, as far as 
its faciUties permitted, secured living quarters and jobs for them. The churches 
took them into membership and attempted to make them feel at home. Negro 


Increase in Membership dur- 
ing Migration Period 

Name of Church 



South Park 
St. Mark's. 
Hyde Park, 


Walters. . . . 

newspapers published instructions on dress and conduct and had great influence 
in smoothing down improprieties of manner which were likely to provoke 
criticism and intolerance in the city. 

Individual experiences of the migrants in this period of adjustment were 
often interesting. The Commission made a special effort to note these experi- 
ences for the light they throw upon the general process. Much of the adjust- 
ment was a double process, including the adjustment of rural southern Negroes 
to northern urban conditions. It is to be remembered that over 70 per cent 
of the Negro population of the South is rural. This means familiarity with 
rural methods, simple machinery, and plain habits of living. Farmers and 
plantation workers coming to Chicago had to learn new tasks. Skilled crafts- 
men had to relearn their trades when they were thrown amid the highly 
specialized processes of northern industries. Domestic servants went into 
industry. Professional men who followed their clientele had to re-estabhsh 
themselves in a new community. The small business men could not compete 
with the Jewish merchants, who practically monopolized the trade of Negroes 
near their residential areas, or with the "Loop" stores. 



Many Negroes sold their homes and brought their furniture with them. 
Reinvesting in property frequently meant a loss; the furniture brought was 
often found to be unsuited to the tiny apartments or large, abandoned dwelling- 
houses they were able to rent or buy. 

The change of home carried with it in many cases a change of status. The 
leader in a small southern community, when he came to Chicago, was immedi- 
ately absorbed into the struggling mass of unnoticed workers. School teachers, 
male and female, whose positions in the South carried considerable prestige, 
had to go to work in factories and plants because the disparity in educational 
standards would not permit continuance of their profession in Chicago. 

These illustrations in Table VI, taken from family histories, show how 
adjustment led to inferior occupation. 


Occupation in South 

Occupation on First Arrival 
in Chicago 

Occupation One or More 
Years Later 

Display man on furniture 


Laborer in factory 

Stone mason 

Laborer in coal yard 

Laborer in Stock Yards 

Proprietor of cafe 


Elevator man 


Laborer in Stock Yards 

Laborer in Stock Yards 

Coal miner 

Porter in tailoring shop 


Proprietor of boarding-house 


Laborer in Stock Yards 


Factory worker 

Factory worker 




Hotel waiter 


Porter in factory 


Laborer in Stock Yards 

Laborer in steel mill 



Laborer in livery stable 


Stationary fireman 

Laborer in Stock Yards 





Laborer in cement factory 

Laborer in Stock Yards 




Ofi&ce boy 


Laborer in Stock Yards 

The following experiences of one or two families from the many histories 
gathered, while not entirely typical of all the migrants, contain features 
common to all: 

The Thomas family. — Mr. Thomas, his wife and two children, a girl nmeteen 
and a boy seventeen, came to Chicago from Seals, Alabama, in the spring of 191 7. 


After a futile search, the family rented rooms for the first week. This was expensive 
and inconvenient, and between working hours all sought a house into which they 
could take their furniture. They finally found a five-room flat on Federal Street. 
The building had been considered uninhabitable and dangerous. Three of the five 
rooms were aknost totally dark. The plumbing was out of order. There was no 
bath, and the toilet was outside of the house. There was neither electricity nor gas, 
and the family used oU lamps. The rent was Si 5 per month. Although the combined 
income of the family could easily have made possible a better house, they could find 

]Mr. and ]\Irs. Thomas were farmers in the South. On the farm Mrs. Thomas 
did the work of a man along with her husband. Both are illiterate. The daughter 
had reached the fourth grade and the boy the fifth grade in school. At home they 
belonged to a church and various fraternal orders and took part in rural commimity life. 
On their arrival in Chicago they were short of funds. Father and son went to 
work at the Stock Yards. Although they had good jobs they found their income 
insufficient; the girl went to work in a laundry, and the mother worked as a laundress 
through the first winter for $1 a day. She later discovered that she was working for 
half the regular rate for laimdry work. Soon she went back to housekeeping to reduce 
the food bill. 

M the family were timid and self-conscious and for a long time avoided contacts, 
thus depriving themselves of helpful suggestions. The children became ashamed of 
the manners of their parents and worked diligently to correct their manner of speech. 
The children attended Wendell Phillips night school in the hope of improving their 
community status. 

The freedom and independence of Negroes in the North have been a constant 
novelty to them and many times they have been surprised that they were "not 
noticed enough to be mistreated." They have tried out various amusement places, 
parks, ice-cream parlors, and theaters near their home on the South Side and have 
enjoyed them because they were denied these opportunities in their former home. 

The combined income of this family is $65 a week, and their rent is now low. 
Many of their old habits have been preserved because of the isolation in which they 
have lived and because they have not been able to move into better housing. 

The Jones family.— Mr. Jones, his wife, a six-year-old son, and a nephew aged 
twenty-one, came from Texas early in 1919. Although they arrived after the heaviest 
migration, they experienced the same difficulties as earUer comers. 

They searched for weeks for a suitable house. At first they secured one room 
on the South Side in a rooming-house, where they were obUged to provide gas, coal, 
linen, bedding, and part of the furniture. After a few weeks they got two rooms for 
light housekeeping, for $10 a month. The associations as well as the physical condi- 
tion of the house were intolerable. They then rented a flat on Carroll Avenue in 
another section. The building was old and run down. The agent for the property, 
to induce tenants to occupy it, had promised to clean and decorate it, but failed 
to keep his word. \Mien the Jones family asked the owner to make repairs, he refused 
flatly and was exceedingly abusive. 

Finally Jones located a house on the West Side that was much too large for his 
family, and the rent too high. They were forced to take lodgers to aid in paying the 
rent. This was against the desire of IMrs. Jones, who did not like to have strangers 


in her house. The house has six rooms and bath and is in a state of dilapidation. 
Mr. Jones has been forced to cover the holes in the floor with tin to keep out the rats. 
The plumbing is bad. During the winter there is no running water, and the agent 
for the building refuses to clean more than three rooms or to furnish screens or storm 
doors or to pay for any plumbing. In the back yard under the house is an accumula- 
tion of ashes, tin cans, and garbage left by a long series of previous tenants. There 
is no alley back of the house, and all of the garbage from the back yard must be carried 
out through the front. Jones made a complaint about insanitary conditions to the 
Health Department, and the house was inspected, but so far nothing has been done. 
It was difl&cult to induce the agent to supply garbage cans. 

Jones had reached the eighth grade, and Mrs. Jones had completed the first 
year of high school. The nephew had finished public-school grades pro\nded in his 
home town and had been taught the boiler trade. He is now pursuing this trade 
in hope of securing sufiicient funds to complete his course in Conroe College, where 
he has already finished the first year. The boy of six was placed in a West Side 
school. He was removed from this school, however, and sent back south to live 
with Mrs. Jones's mother and attend school there. Mrs. Jones thought that the 
influence of the school children of Chicago was not good for him. He had been almost 
blinded by a blow from a baseball bat in the hands of one of several older boys who 
continually annoyed him. The child had also learned vulgar language from his 
school associates. 

The Jones family were leading citizens in their southern home. They were 
members of a Baptist church, local clubs, and a missionary society, while Jones was 
a member and officer in the Knights of Tabor, IMasons, and Odd Fellows. They 
owned their home and two other pieces of property in the same town, one of which 
brought in $20 a month. As a boUer-maker, he earned about $50 a week, which is 
about the same as his present income. Their motive in coming to Chicago was to 
escape from the undesirable practices and customs of the South. 

They had been told that no discrimination was practiced against Negroes in 
Chicago; that they could go where they pleased without the embarrassment or hin- 
drance because of their color. Accordingly, when they first came to Chicago, they 
went into drug-stores and restaurants. They were refused service in numbers of 
restaurants and at the refreshment counters in some drug-stores. The family has 
begun the re-estabUshment of its commimity life, having joined a West Side Baptist 
church and taking an active interest in local organizations, particularly the Wendell 
PhilHps Social Settlement. The greatest satisfaction of the Joneses comes from the 
"escape from Jim Crow conditions and segregation" and the securing of improved 
conditions of work, although there is no difference in the wages. 


Migrants have been visited in their homes, and met in industry, in the 
schools, and in contacts on street cars and in parks. Efforts have been made 
to learn why they came to Chicago and with what success they were adjusting 
themselves to their new surroundings. 

Some of the repUes to questions asked are given: 
Question: Why did you come to Chicago ? 



1. Looking for better wages. 

2. So I could support my family. 

3. Tired of being a flunky. 

4. I just happened to drift here. 

5. Some of my people were here. 

6. Persuaded by friends. 

7. Wanted to make more money so I could go into business; couldn't do it in 
the South. 

8. To earn more money. 

9. For better wages. 

10. Wanted to change and come to the North. 

11. Came to get more money for work. 

12. To better my conditions. 

13. Better conditions. 

14. Better conditions. 

15. Better hving. 

16. JNIore work; came on visit and staj^ed. 

17. Wife persuaded me. 

18. To estabhsh a church. 

19. Tired of the South. 

20. To get away from the South, and to earn more money. 

Question: Do you feel greater freedom and independence in Chicago ? In what ways ? 

1. Yes. Working conditions and the places of amusement. 

2. Yes. The chance to make a living; conditions on the street cars and in 

3. Going into places of amusement and living in good neighborhoods. 

4. Yes. Educationally, and in the home conditions. 

5. Yes. Go anywhere you want to go; voting; don't have to look up to the 
white man, get off the street for him, and go to the buzzard roost at shows. 

6. Yes. Just seem to feel a general feeling of good-fellowship. 

7. On the street cars and the way you are treated where you work. 

8. Yes. Can go any place I like here. At home I was segregated and not 
treated hke I had any rights. 

9. Yes. Privilege to mingle with people; can go to the parks and places of 
amusement, not being segregated. 

10. Yes. Feel free to do anything I please. Not dictated to by white people. 

11. Yes. Had to take any treatment white people offered me there, compelled 
to say "yes ma'am" or "yes sir" to white people, whether you desired to 
or not. If you went to an ice cream parlor for anything you came outside 
to eat it. Got off sidewalk for w'hite people. 

12. Yes. Can vote; feel free; haven't any fear; make more money. 

13. Yes. Voting; better opportunity for work; more respect from white people. 

14. Yes. Can vote; no lynching; no fear of mobs; can express my opinion and 
defend myself. 

15. Yes. Voting, more privileges; white people treat me better, not as much 


16. Yes. Feel more like a man. Same as slavery, in a way, at home. I don't 
have to give up the sidewalk here for white people as in my former home. 

17. Yes. No restrictions as to shows, schools, etc. More protection of law. 

18. Yes. Have more privileges and more money. 

19. Yes. JNIore able to express views on aU questions. No segregation or 

20. Sure. Feel more freedom. Was not counted in the South; colored people 
allowed no freedom at all in the South. 

21. Find things quite different to what they are at home. Haven't become 
accustomed to the place yet. 

Qmstion: What were your first impressions of Chicago ? 

1. I liked the air of doing things here. 

2. A place of real opportunity if you would work. 

3. Place just full of life. Went to see the sights every night for a month. 

4. I thought it was some great place but found out it wasn't. Uncle told me 
he was living on Portland Avenue, that it was some great avenue; found 
nothing but a mud hole. I sure wished I was back home. 

5. WTien I got here and got on the street cars and saw colored people sitting 
by white people all over the car I just held my breath, for I thought any 
minute they would start something, then I saw nobody noticed it, and I just 
thought this was a real place for colored people. No, indeed, I'll never 
work in anybody's kitchen but my own, any more, that's the one thing that 
makes me stick to this job. 

6. Was completely lost, friend was to meet me but didn't and I was afraid to 
ask anyone where to go; finally my friend came; was afraid to sleep first 
night — so much noise; thought the cars would finally stop running so I 
could rest. 

7. Liked the place. 

8. Always liked Chicago, even the name before I came, 
g. Liked it fine. 

10. Good city for colored people. 

11. Fine city. 

12. Thought it the best place for colored people. 

13. Thought it a good place for colored people to hve in. 

14. Very favorable, thought it the place to be for myself and family. 

15. Didn't like it; lonesome, untU I went out. Then liked the places of amuse- 
ment which have no restrictions. 

16. Liked it fine, like it even better now. 

17. Liked Chicago from the first visit made two years ago; was not satisfied 
untU I was able to get back. 

18. Think I wUl like it later on. 
Question: In what respects is life harder or easier here than in the South ? 

1. Easier. I don't have to work so hard and get more money. 

2. Easier in that here my wife doesn't have to work. I just couldn't make it 
by myself in the South. 

3. Living is much easier; chance to learn a trade. I make and save more money. 

^.9> ^ 



4. Easier, you can make more money and it means more to you. 

5. Easier to make a living here. 

6. Easier, I get more money for my work and have some spare time. 

7. Have better home, but have to work harder. I make more money, but 
spend it all to live, 

8. Have more time to rest here and don't work as hard. 

9. Find it easier to live because I have more to live on. 

10. Earn more money; the strain is not so great wondering from day to day 
how to make a little money do. 

11. Work harder here than at home. 

12. Easier. Work is hard, but hours are short. I make more money and can 
live better. 

13. More money for work, though work is harder. Better able to buy the neces- 
sities of life. 

14. Easier; more work and more money and shorter hours. 

15. Living higher, but would rather be here than m South, I have shorter 
hours here. 

16. Don't have to work as hard here as at home. Have more time for rest and 
to spend with family. 

17. Easier to live in St, Louis. More work here and better wages. Living 
higher here. Saved more there. 

18. Must work very hard here, much harder than at home. 

19. Harder because of increased cost of living. 

20. The entire family feels that life is much easier here than at home. Do not 
find work as hard anywhere. 

Question: What do you like about the North ? 

1. Freedom in voting and conditions of colored people here. I mean you can 
live in good houses; men here get a chance to go with the best-looking girls 
in the race; some may do it in Memphis, but it ain't always safe. 

2. Freedom and chance to make a living; privileges. 

3. Freedom and opportunity to acquire somethiag. 

4. Freedom allowed in every way. 

5. More money and more pleasure to be gotten from it; personal freedom 
Chicago affords, and voting. 

6. Freedom and working conditions. 

7. Work, can work any place, freedom. 

8. The schools for the children, the better wages, and the privileges for colored 

9. The chance colored people have to live; privileges allowed them and better 

10. The friendliness of the people, the chmate which makes health better. 

11. Like the privileges, the climate; have better health. 

12. No discrimination; can express opinion and vote. 

13. Freedom of speech , right to live and work as other races. Higher pay for labor. 

14. Freedom; privileges; treatment of whites; ability to live in peace; not 
held down. 


1$. Freedom of speech and action. Can live without fear, no Jim Crow. 
i6. More enjoyment; more places of attraction; better treatment; better 
schools for children. 

17. Liberty, better schools. 

18. I like the North for wages earned and better homes colored people can live 
in and go more places than at home. 

19. Privileges, freedom, industrial and educational facilities. 

20. The people, the freedom and liberty colored people enjoy here that they never 
before experienced. Even the ways of the people are better than at home. 

21. Haven't found anything yet to like, except wife thinks she will like the 
opportunity of earning more money than ever before. 

Question: What difficulties do you think a person from the South meets in coming to 

Chicago ? 

1. Getting used to climate and houses. 

2. Getting accustomed to cold weather and flats. 

3. Getting used to living conditions and make more money; not letting the 
life here run away with you. 

4. Adjusting myself to the weather and flat life: roommg and "closeness" 
of the houses. 

5. Getting used to flat conditions and crowded houses. 

6. Getting used to living in flats, and growing accustomed to being treated like 

7. Getting used to the ways of the people; not speaking or being friendly; 
colder weather, hard on people from the South. 

8. Just the treatment some of the white people give you on the trains. Some- 
times treat you like dogs. 

9. Know of no difficulties a person from the South meets coming to Chicago. 

10. I didn't meet any difficulties coming from the South. Know of none persons 
would likely meet. 

11. Can think of no difficulties persons meet coming from the South to Chicago. 

12. Adjustment to working conditions and climate. 

13. Climatic changes. 

14. Change in climate, crowded living conditions, lack of space for gardens, etc. 

15. Change in climate, crowded housing conditions, 

16. Coming without knowing where they are going to stop usually causes some 
difficulty. Get in with wrong people who seek to take advantage of the 
ignorance of newcomers. 

17. Becoming adjusted to climate. 

18. If they know where they are going, when they come here. The danger lies 
in getting among the wrong class of people. 

19. Adjustment to city customs, etc. 

20. If persons know where they are going and what they are going to do, will 
not have any trouble. Must come with the intention of working or else 
expect many difficulties. 

21. Know of no difficulties. 

Question: Do you get more comforts and pleasures from your higher wages ? 



1. Yes. Better homes, places of amusement, and the buying of your clothes 
here. You can try on things; you can do that in some stores in Memphis, 
but not in all. 

2. Yes. Living in better houses, can go into almost any place if you have the 
money, and then the schools are so much better here. 

3. Yes. I live better, save more, and feel more like a man. 

4. Yes. I can buy more, my wife can have her clothes fitted here, she can 
try on a hat, and if she doesn't want it she doesn't have to keep it; go 
anywhere I please on the cars after I pay my fare; I can do any sort of 
work I know how to do. 

5. Yes. Go anywhere I please, buy what I please; ain't afraid to get on cars 
and sit where I please, 

6. Well, I make more money. I can't save anything from it. There are so 
many places to go here, but down South you work, work, work, and you 
have to save, for you haven't any place to spend it. 

7. Yes. Better homes. Spend money anywhere you want to, go anywhere 
you have money enough to go; don't go out very much but like to know 
I can where and when I want to. 

8. Have chance to make more money, but it is aU spent to keep family up. 

9. At home did not earn much money and did not have any left to go what 
few places colored people were allowed to go. Here, Negroes can have 
whatever they want. 

10. Don't have to worry about how you are going to live. More money earned 
affords anything wanted. 

11. Have more comforts in the home that could not have at home; more con- 
veniences here. Wages sons earn make it p)ossible to have all that is wanted. 

12. Yes. Better houses and more enjoyment. 

13. Yes. I live in larger house and have more conveniences. Can take more 
pleasure; have more leisure time. 

14. Yes. Better houses and more amusement. More time of my own, better 
furniture and food. 

15. Yes. Better houses and furniture. More pleasures because of shorter 
hours of work, giving me more time. 

16. What little was earned at home was used for food and clothing. Here, 
earn more, have more to spend; now and then put some in the bank, and 
can spend some for pleasure without strain or inconvenience. 

17. Yes. More places to go, parks and playgrounds for children, and no differ- 
ence made between white and colored. Houses more convenient here. 

18. Have more money to spend but when you have to live in houses where 
landlord won't fix up you can't have much comfort. Go no place for pleasure, 
but enjoy the chance of earning more money. 

19. No comment. 

20. Have money to get whatever is desired. Live in a better house and can go 
places denied at home. All the family are perfectly satisfied and are happier 
than they have ever been. 

21. Live in better house than ever lived in. Never had the comforts furnished 
here. Some houses there had no water closets; only had cistern and wells 
out in the yard. 


Question: Are you advising friends to come to Chicago ? 

1. Yes. People down there don't really believe the things we write back, 
I didn't believe myself until I got here. 

2. No. I am not going to encourage them to come, for they might not make it, 
then I would be blamed. 

3. Yes. If I think they will work. 

4. Some of them, those who I think would appreciate the advantages here. 

5. No. Not right now, come here and get to work, strikes come along, they're 
out of work. Come if they want to, though. 

6. Yes. I have two sisters still in Lexington. I am trying to get them to 
come up here. They can't understand why I stay here, but they'll see if 
they come. 

7. Yes. People here don't realize how some parts of the South treat colored 
folks; poor white trash were awful mean where we came from; wish all the 
colored folks would come up here where you ain't afraid to breathe. 

8. Yes. Want friend and husband to come; also sister and family who want 
her to come back that they may see how she looks before they break up and 
come. Youngest son begs mother never to think of going back South. 
Oldest son not so well satisfied when first came, but since he is working, 
likes it a little better. 

Only a few migrants were found who came on free transportation, and many 
of these had friends in Chicago before they came. Few expressed a desire to 


The withdrawal of great numbers of Negroes, both because of the migration 
and because of mihtary service, left large gaps in the industries of the South 
dependent upon Negro labor. Thousands of acres of rice and sugar cane 
went to waste. The turpentine industry of the Carolinas and the milling 
interests of Tennessee were hard pressed for labor. Cotton-growing was 
much affected, especially in the delta region of Mississippi. The situation 
became critical, presenting a real economic problem. Organized efforts were 
made, and at times extreme measures were taken, to start a return movement. 
A report was circulated that on one day in the winter of 1919 in Chicago, 
17,000 Negroes were counted in a bread line. The "horrors of northern 
winters" were played up as they had been during the migration. 

The press throughout the country was used to spread broadcast the 
South's needs, its kind treatment of Negroes, its opportunities, and its growing 
change of heart on the question of race relations. Newspaper articles from 
sections of the North and South carried about the same story. The Chicago 
Tribune said in a conspicuous headhne : "Louisiana Wants Negroes to Return." 
Other such headUnes were: Washington Post— "South. Needs Negroes. Try 
to Get Labor for Their Cotton Fields. Tell of Kind Treatment"; New York 
Evening Sun— ''To Aid Negro Return"; Philadelphia Press— ''South Is 
Urging Negroes to Return. Many Districts WilUng to Pay Fare of Those 


Who Come Back"; Memphis Commercial Appeal — "South Is Best for Negro, 
Say Mississippians. Colored People Found Prosperous and Happy." 

Though such reports were widely circulated throughout the North, the 
actual efforts of agencies from the South seeking the return of Negro labor 
centered around Chicago. This was due largely to the fact that from the 
southern states most acutely in need the drift during the migration had been 
to Chicago, and because the increase of Chicago's Negro population had been 
so great. 

Immediately following the riots in Chicago and Washington, rumors 
gained wide currency that hundreds of migrants were leaving for sections of 
the South. So strong was the behef in the truth of this report that a Chicago 
newspaper telegraphed the governors of southern states inquiring the number 
of Negroes they needed. Agents of the South, including representatives of 
the Tennessee Association of Commerce, the Department of Immigration of 
Louisiana, the Mississippi Welfare League, and the Southern Alluvial Land 
Association, visited northern cities with a view to providing means for the 
return of Negroes. Although free transportation was offered, together with 
promises of increased wages and better hving conditions, the various commis- 
sions were disappointed. 

Their interviews with Negroes living in Chicago revealed a determi- 
nation not to return to conditions they had left two years before. To offset 
this objection, two Chicago Negroes and one white man were taken to 
Mississippi by a representative of the Mississippi Welfare League to make an 
investigation. They visited several delta towns, travehng for the most part 
in automobiles and interviewing farmers and laborers. They reported in 
substance as follows: 

Railroad accommodations for Negroes were adequate and uniform, irrespective 
of locality; treatment accorded Negro passengers by railroad officials was courteous 
throughout. Public-school terms were nine months in the city and eight months 
in the country for white and colored alike, and the strongest possible human ties 

between planter and worker exist In no instance were Negroes not given the 

freest use of sidewalks, streets, and thoroughfares and we were unable to find any 
trace of friction of any kind between the races. 

An effort was then made by the Chicago Urban League to ascertain the 
precise state of affairs. Its southern representative questioned hundreds of 
Negroes Uving in the South, regarding improved relationships. Answers to 
this query were all about the same. Some of them are quoted: 

There has been no change. Lincohi League organized in this city has been 
denounced by the white newspapers as a movement that will cause trouble, and the 
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Urban Leagues 
of various cities have been called "strife breeders and meddlers in southern affairs"; 
Jim Crow accommodations are just the same as ever. If there is any change for the 
better, I can't see it. 


It is ridiculous for any Negro to say he finds conditions better here. Don't 
you remember that Negroes answering an invitation to meet the Welfare Committee 
of white men not long ago were told as soon as they got into the meeting place that 
the Committee was ready to hear what Negroes wanted, but that the question of the 
Negro's right to exercise the right of voting would not be allowed to be discussed at 
all, and that that must be agreed to before any discussion whatever would be enter- 
tained, and that the Negroes left the meeting place without a chance to demand the 
one thing they wished to enjoy ? 

Some deceitful, lying Negro may say that times are better, but he would, at the 
same time, know that he was not telling the truth. Haven't you been hearing more 
reports of lynching of Negroes than you ever did in your life, since the war ? Where, 
then, is there any improvement ? Ain't all the judges, all the police and constables, 
all the juries as white man as ever ? Does the word of a Negro count for more now 
than it did before the war ? Don't white men insult our wives and daughters and 
sisters and get off at it, unless we take the law into our own hand and punish them 
for it ourselves, and get lynched for protecting our own, just as often as ever ? How 
much more schooling from public funds do our children get now than they got before 
the war ? How much more do we have to say now than we had to say before the war 
about the way the taxes we pay shall be spent for schools, or for salaries, or for anything 
connected with administration and government? Why, even the colored man in 
Caddo parish who subscribed for $100,000 in Liberty bonds and bought lots of War 
Savings stamps, and others who bought less, but in the hundreds, and thousands of 
the bonds and War Saving stamps, have no more to say about affairs now than they 
ever had. Where is the improvement ? 

The Urban League also made an inquiry into the numbers of Negroes leav- 
ing and arriving in the week following the riot, and when the strongest efforts 
were being made to induce a return of migrants. During this period 261 
Negroes came to Chicago and 219 left the city. Of the 219 leaving, eighty- 
three gave some southern state as their destination. For the most part, they 
were persons returning from vacations in the North, and Chicago Negroes 
going South to visit or on business. Some were rejoining their families. 
Fourteen were leaving because of the riot. None, however, indicated any 
intention of going South to work. 

It is clear that migrant Negroes are not returning South. On the contrary, 
there is a small but continuous stream of migration to the industrial centers 
of the North. No great number of Negroes returned to the South even during 
the trying unemployment period in the early part of 192 1. Census figures 
for Chicago for 1920 show a number much smaller than the usual estimates 
of the size of the Negro population during the period of the heaviest migration. 
This may be accounted for by the fact that Chicago has been used as a 
re-routing point to other northern cities. The decrease from 1918 undoubtedly 
means that some returned to the South, but it is apparent that the great 
majority of the migrants remain, despite the hardships attending shortage of 



The Negro population of Chicago, as reported by the Federal Bureau of 
the Census, was 44,103 in 1910 and 109,594 in 1920. The increase during the 
decade was therefore 65,491, or 148.5 per cent. Negroes constituted 2 per 
cent of the city's total population in 1910 and 4.1 per cent in 1920. The 
increase in the white population during the decade was 450,047, or 21 per cent, 
bringing the white population up to 2,589,104 in 1920. The remainder of 
the population consisted of 3,007 Chinese, Japanese, and Indians, of whom 
there were 2,123 ^ 1910. Chicago's total population in 1920 was 2,701,705. 

In order to indicate where the Negro population of the city hved in 19 10 
and in 1920, the Commission sought the co-operation of the Census Bureau. 
On the basis of a rough preliminan,^ survey, certain areas in which it was 
e\'ident that the main groups of Negroes hved were delimited, and hberal 
margins allowed to include scattered residents H\"ing near the main areas. 
For these areas the Census Bureau suppHed figures showing the total and 
Negro population b}- census-enumeration districts. Since each enumeration 
district embraced from one or two, to six city blocks in the more crowded 
portions of the city, the data thus made available enabled the Commission 
to prepare maps showing with a fair degree of accuracy where Negroes in 
Chicago hved in 1910 and in 1920, and also their proportion to the total 
population in these imits of area. 

The 510 enumeration districts covered for 1910 included 40,739, or 92.3 
per cent of the 44,103 Negroes reported by the Census Bureau for that year; 
and the 730 envmaeration districts covered for 1920 included 106,089, or 96.8 
per cent of the 109,594 Negroes reported for that year. The small remaining 
nimaber of Negroes scattered throughout the parts of the city not embraced 
in these areas in 1910 and 1920 included man)' janitors n\dng in the buildings 
where they worked, and others employed in private homes and hving on the 
premises, thus making their presence inconspicuous among white residents. 
The areas in which 40,739 Negroes were h\Tng in 1910 contained a total popula- 
tion of 657,044, the Negroes thus constituting 6.2 per cent of the total. The 
areas in which 106,089 Negroes hved in 1920 contained a total population of 
779,279, the Negroes thus constituting about 13 per cent of the total. 

The outstanding fact concerning these data for 1910 and 1920 is that the 
large increase in Negro population did not bring into existence any new large 
colonies but resulted in the expansion and increased density of areas in which 
groups of Negroes already Hved in 19 10. 




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fill- ^-,=:^ 



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^ =^3^«?i*3"""^ t~ — »■'■?•:-'.-• ' H 

\ "_ 1910 











1 M I i 1 


By far the largest number of Negroes in 1910 and 1920 lived in what may- 
be termed the old "South Side," which includes the original "Black Belt" 
embracing the area from Twelfth to Thirty-first streets and from Wentworth 
to Wabash avenues. This and other areas of Negro residence in various parts 
of the city, with their approximate boundaries in 1910 and 1920 and their 
Negro population for both years, are Hsted here under designations which are 
arbitrarily given for convenient reference; they do not embrace the whole 
of each area commonly included under such designations. 


1910 boundaries: On the north, Twelfth Street; on the west, Wentworth Avenue; 
on the south, Fifty-fifth Street; and on the east, Indiana Avenue. Negro population, 
34,335, or II per cent of the total population of 311,049. 

1920 boundaries: The same as in 1910. Negro population, 92,501, or 24.6 
per cent of the total population of 376,171. 


1910 boundaries: On the north, Sixty-third Street; on the west, Eberhart 
Avenue; on the south, Sixty-seventh Street; and on the east. Grand Avenue. Negro 
population, 319; total population, 4,783. 

1920 boundaries: On the north. Sixty-first Street; on the west, South Park 
Avenue; on the south. Sixty-seventh Street; and on the east, Cottage Grove Avenue. 
Negro population, 1,235; total population, 8,861. 


1910 boundaries: On the north. Fifty-third Street; on the west, Harper Avenue; 
on the south. Fifty-seventh Street; and on the east. Lake Park Avenue. Negro 
population, 438. 

1920 boundaries the same as in 1910. Negro population, 238. 


(Vicinity of Ogden Park in Englewood) 

1910 boundaries: On the north. Fifty-ninth Street; on the west, Loomis Street; 
on the south, Sixty-third Street; and on the east, Halsted Street. Negro population, 
1,403; total population, 25,880. 

1920 boundaries the same as in 1910. Negro population, 1,859; total population, 


1910 boundaries: On the north, 107th Street: on the west, Vincennes Avenue; 
on the south, iiith Street; and on the east, Loomis Street. Negro population, 126. 

1920 boundaries, the same as in 1910, except on the south, 115th Street. Negro 
population, 695. 


South Chicago in the vicinity of the steel plants bordering on Lake Michigan at 
Ninety-first Street: 36 Negroes in 1910 and 117 in 1920. 


Bumside, in the vicinity of South State and Ninety-first streets: 2 Negroes in 
1910 and 205 in 1920. 

Oakwoods, in the vicinity immediately east of Oakwoods Cemetery, between 
Sixty-seventh and Seventy-first streets: 52 Negroes in 1919 and 58 in 1920. 


1910 boundaries: On the north, Austin Avenue; on the west. Western Avenue; 
on the south, Lake Street to Racine to Washington to Halsted; on the east, Halsted 
Street. Negro population, 3,379. This includes a scattering of Negroes hving 
immediately southwest of this area. 

1920 boundaries: On the north, Austin Street; on the west, California Avenue; 
on the south, Washington Boulevard; and on the east, Morgan Street. Negro 
population, 8,363, including scattered residents as far south as Twelfth Street. 


1910 boundaries: On the north. North Avenue; on the west, Larrabee Street; 
on the south, Chicago Avenue; and on the east. State Street. Negro population, 744. 
1920 boundaries: The same as in 1910. Negro population, 1,050. 


1910 boundaries: On the north, Lawrence Avenue; on the west, Ashland Avenue ; 
on the south, ]Montrose Avenue; and on the east, Sheridan Road. Negro popula- 
tion, 105. 

1920 boundaries: The same as in 1910. Negro population, 175, 
The total Negro population in the north division of the city, including the part 
designated "North Side," the Ravenswood colony, and scattered residents in other 
parts, was 1,427 in 1910 and 1,820 in 1920. 


While the principal colony of Chicago's Negro population is situated in a 
central part of the South Side, Negroes are to be found in several other parts 
of the city in proportions to total population ranging from less than i per cent 
to more than 95 per cent. In some of these neighborhoods whites and Negroes 
have become adjusted to one another; in others they have not. There are 
numerous degrees of variation between the two extremes. In this study the 
term "adjusted neighborhood" indicates one in which whites and Negroes 
have become accommodated to each other, and friction is either non-existent 
or neghgible; "non-adjusted neighborhood" is one where misunderstandings, 
dislikes, and antagonisms resulting from contacts of any degree between whites 
and Negroes express themselves in racial hostlHty, sometimes involving open 


The most striking example of "adjusted neighborhoods" is the district 
known as the "Black Belt." Because 90 per cent of the Negroes of Chicago 
live within this area, it is usually assumed that the district is 90 per cent 



Negro. This, however, is not the case. The area between TweKth and 
Thirty-ninth streets, Wentworth Avenue and Lake Michigan, includes the 
oldest and densest Negro population of any section of its size in Chicago. 
However, the actual numbers of whites and Negroes li\-ing there are 42,797 
and 54,906 respectively. In this area the Negro population has increased 
gradually and without disturbance for many years. Although for a long period 
Negroes were confined to the area bounded by State Street, Wentworth 
Avenue, Tweh'th, and Thirty-ninth streets, their movement into the neighbor- 
hood east of State Street was ultimately looked upon as a natural and expected 
expansion. Within the whole of this territory a relationship exists, which, 
although perhaps not uniformly friendly, yet is without friction or disorder. 
During the riot few white persons li\iag or engaged in business there were at- 
tacked by Negroes, who were in the majorit}- in many parts of the area. Many 
whites remaining in the area, which was formerly all white, are small property 
owners who for sentimental reasons prefer to Hve there. Numbers of family 
hotels and large apartment houses there continue to be occupied by whites, 
who are apparently little affected by the presence of 10 per cent more Negroes 
than whites around them. ^Michigan Avenue and Grand Boulevard are the 
streets into which Negroes have moved most recently. The only recorded 
bombing within this area occurred on Grand Boulevard. The Grand Boulevard 
district is afihated \s-ith the Kenwood and Hyde Park Property Owners' 
-Association. Although the bombing was an expression of resentment against 
Negroes because they moved into this block, there are circumstances which 
indicate that the resentment did not come from the neighbors. For example, 
the wife of a Negro ph\-sician owning and li\-iiig in a house in the same block 
was asked bv her white neighbors to ser\-e as chairman of a committee to keep 
up the property m the neighborhood. 

The first Negro family to move into the Vernon Avenue block immediately 
south of Thirty-first Street bought its residence in 1911. It was five years 
before another Negro family came. White neighbors, who were and are ver>- 
friendly, said this family's good care of its lawn was an example for the whole 
block. ' 

When an apartment house in which a Negro family lived on South Park 
Avenue near Thirt\--first Street was burned, white neighbors took them into 
their home and kept them until another house was secured. At a meeting of 
the City Club of Chicago a white man who had Kved in this area for fort\- 
vears thus characterized the relations between whites and Negroes li\ing there : 
Ha\-ing lived on the South Side in what is now known as the "Black Belt" for 
fort>- years. I can testif>- that I have never had more honest, quiet, and law-abiding 
neighbors than those who are of the African race, either full or mixed blood. In 
the precinct where I live we have several families blessed with many orderly and 
well-behaved children, of Caucasian and African blood. They seem to get along 
nicely, and why should they not? ... . There is no race question, it is a question 
of intelligence and moralitj', pxrre and simple. 


Occasional minor misunderstandings have resulted from contacts in this 
area, but they have not been conspicuously marked by racial bitterness. 
Objections, sometimes expressed when the tradition of an "all white" neighbor- 
hood was first broken, disappeared as the neighbors came to know each other. 
Long residence is apparently one condition of the adjustment process. 

Expansion and adjustment. — The first noticeable expansion of the Negro 
population following the migration in 191 7 and 191 8 was in the area extending 
south from Thirty-ninth Street to Forty-seventh Street onLangley, St. Lawrence, 
and Evans avenues. Negroes began moving into this area early in 191 7, 
first a few and finally in large numbers. There is yet no compact group, for 
these Negro famiUes, while numerous, are well distributed. The experiences 
of some of the first families there are interesting. 

A Negro woman bought a piece of property on Langley Avenue, near 
Forty-third Street, when every other family in the block was white. The 
courtesy shown her by them was all that could be desired, she declares. There 
are still six or eight white families in the block, and they continue on the most 
friendly terms with her. A Negro woman in another block has white neighbors 
all around her, but there has been no racial objection or friction. Another, 
who owns her property on Evans Avenue, has had no trouble with white families 
that remain in the block. So with a Negro who rents from the Negro owner of 
a flat on East Thirty-sixth Street. A Negro who has bought a home on St. 
Lawrence Avenue near Forty-seventh Street declares that the white families 
living thereabouts "treat my family right." In one block on St. Lawrence 
Avenue a Negro family is surrounded by white neighbors, but no trouble has 
been experienced. In a block on Langley Avenue another family of Negroes has 
had no clashes with the white neighbors who compose most of the neighborhood. 

A woman who built her home in the 4800 block on Champlain Avenue, when 
hers was the only Negro family there and has lived there ever since, had no 
trouble with neighbors until other Negroes moved in. Then a white woman 
circulated a petition for the purpose of compeUing the Negroes to move out. 
This effort failed. In another block on East Forty-sixth Street a Negro family 
lives in a neighborhood which has a majority of whites, but the relations have 
been amicable. An apartment house on Champlain Avenue near Forty-sixth 
Street is occupied entirely by Negroes, though there are white families all 
through the neighborhood. One Negro who has lived there for three years 
says they have never been molested. A pioneer Negro family in a white block 
on Vernon Avenue near Thirty-ninth Street reports no trouble with the white 

Two women who were among the last of the whites to leave the Langley 
Avenue vicinity say they always found the Negroes to be kindly neighbors. A 
Negro family on Forty-first Street has been there a year without friction with 
white neighbors. In another block on East Forty-second Street a Negro woman 
reported that, though there are white people aU through the neighborhood, 

'^^ S S rS ^ C^l C2= 




























lMA J Ml 

\ \ \ 


the two races get along peaceably. In the 400 block of East Forty-sixth 
Street a similar report is given. In still another block on Champlain Avenue 
lives a woman who has been in the midst of white famihes for a number of 
years without experiencing animosity. On East Forty-second Street a Negro 
family has hved for three years in similar freedom from racial friction. 

In another instance a pioneer Negro family in a block otherwise wholly 
white was well regarded by all except one of the neighbors. This white man 
who voiced loudly his objections to the "invasion" was one who, because of 
his drunken habits and troublesome nature, had long been considered an 
undesirable neighbor by other whites in the block. 

Woodlawn.—ReMions in Woodlawn, where the Negro population increase 
has been relatively large, are for the most part friendly. There is an association 
of Negro property owners interested in keeping up the physical appearance 
of their homes in the neighborhood. No clashes have been reported except 
one instance of a group of white boys from another neighborhood throwing 
stones at a building where they saw Negroes. Following the stirring up and 
organization of anti-Negro sentiment in Hyde Park, an attempt was made to 
organize white Woodlawn property owners against the invasion of the district 
by Negroes. This organization was not a great success. There have been no 
bombings in this district, and no concerted opposition to the presence of Negroes 
as neighbors. Long residence together and the good character and conduct 
of both Negroes and whites are probably important reasons for lack of friction. 


A situation like that in the adjusted neighborhoods of the South Side 
exists in the district bounded by Washington and Kinzie, Ashland and Cali- 
fornia avenues, where there has been a settlement of Negroes for many years. 
Houses are cheaper than on the South Side, and although the general standard 
of workingmen's homes compares favorably with that on the South Side, 
few of the abandoned good residences formerly occupied by wealthy persons 
are available for Negroes. The densest and oldest settlement of Negroes is 
within the boundaries named, although the Negro residence area actually 
extends many blocks beyond them on all sides. There has been little friction, 
though the area has 9,221 whites and 6,520 Negroes. South of Washington 
Boulevard occasional diiSculties have been met by the incoming Negro popula- 
tion, similar to those found in areas where the most congested Negro population 
on the South Side is spreading. On the West Side no bombings have occurred, 
although there have been frequent protests against the expansion. Some 
streets have come to be recognized as Negro streets. 

In recent years many Negroes have bought homes on the West Side when 
they could not easily find Uving quarters in or near the older Negro residence 
areas on the South Side. Ahnost uniformly they keep their homes in good 
condition, which cannot be said of all the Negroes who settled early in this 


district. West Side Negroes, laborers for the most part, are generally home- 
loving, hard-working, and desirous of improving conditions for their children. 
Older settlers among them have been able to make their adjustments without 
great difficulty and with no marked antagonism from white neighbors. 

Though occasionally trivial conflicts arise between Negro and white neigh- 
bors, the attitude of whites in nearby areas is customarily friendly if not cordial. 
For example, a Negro doctor has a considerable practice among nearby Italians 
in the vicinity of the Chicago Commons Social Settlement. At Chicago 
Commons itseK no distinction is made with respect to the few Negro families 
which at times make use of the facilities. Children of these families have 
entered classes and clubs, and one of them became a leader of a group. 

The Poles who mainly occupy the neighborhood around the Northwestern 
University Social Settlement are entirely friendly to Negroes. Three years ago 
an educated Negro was at the head of the boys' department of the settlement, 
and, with one exception, no one in that position has made more friends among 
the boys and their families. 

On the West Side, as on the South and North sides, Negroes have estab- 
Hshed their own restaurants and barber shops and some groceries and dehca- 
tessen stores. There are several theaters whose patronage is largely Negro. 


On the North Side, Negroes live among foreign whites and near a residence 
area of wealthy Chicagoans. Their first appearance occasioned little notice 
or objection, since they were generally house servants living near their work. 
The largest nmnbers are to be found between Chicago Avenue and Division 
Street on North Wells, FrankUn, and cross streets connecting them. 

This neighborhood has experienced several complete changes in population. 
It was first occupied by Irish, then by Swedes, then by Italians. The present 
neighbors of Negroes are Italians. As indicated by the population changes, 
the neighborhood is old and run down, and the reasons given by Negroes for 
Uving there are low rents and proximity to the manufacturing plants where 
they work. 

The Negroes there are renters, because the property, although undesirable 
for residence purposes, is valuable for business and too expensive for them to 
buy. The famiUes are chiefly respectable, hard-working people. They have 
their own barber and tailor shops and similar business places. In social affairs 
they confine themselves largely to meetings, dances, and similar gatherings 
held exclusively for their own race. Formerly the second floor of a building 
on Division Street was frequently rented by the Negroes for church and other 
meetings, and dances. Recently they have found other meeting places, 
particularly for reUgious devotions. Some of their social gatherings and meet- 
ings take place at Seward Park, 

They are welcomed not only in Seward Park, one of the city's recreation 
centers, but in the settlements. At EU Bates House, 621 West Ehn Street, 









for example, there has been a club of Negro young men, and applications 
have been received for admission of Negro children to some classes. The 
head resident of the settlement reports, however, that it has not had much 
contact with the Negro group. A few Negro children come to the kindergarten ; 
a group of Negro boys makes use of the gymnasium, and some neighboring 
Negro famihes have asked settlement residents for advice. 

In this neighborhood friendly relations exist between the SiciUans, who 
predominate, and their Negro neighbors. Some Negroes live harmoniously 
in the same tenements with the Sicilians. Their children play together, and 
some Negro children have learned Sicilian phrases, so that they are able to 
deal with the Sicilian shopkeepers. 

Elsewhere on the North Side the feeling between Italians and Negroes is 
not so cordial. During the riot of 1919, serious trouble was averted on the 
North Side through prompt and effective efforts by the police and members 
of the community. It was reported throughout the district that automobiles 
loaded with armed Negroes were on their way from the South Side to "shoot 
up the North Side." The ItaHans immediately armed themselves and began 
to shoot recklessly. They were eventually quieted by the poUce and others, 
and there was no retaUation of the Negroes, 

Many Negroes who have purchased homes and Hved on the North Side for 
years report little opposition. One family on North Wells Street has lived 
there since 1888 and now owns several valuable pieces of property. The man 
had no trouble in buying property, and the whites have always been friendly 
to them and to all Negroes in that section. Another Negro family on North 
Wells Street, where Negroes first Hved, had no difficulty in getting their flat 
sixteen years ago. This block is occupied by whites and Negroes without friction. 

Minor expressions of antagonism attended the moving in of some Negro 
families, but after several months the white neighbors accepted them and 
now are on good terms with them. 


Failure of adjustment between whites and Negroes has greatly accentuated 
the difficulties of the housing problem for Negroes. When a general shortage 
of housing is relieved there may still be a serious shortage for Negroes because 
of the hostihty of white neighborhoods. The sentiment for "all-white" 
neighborhoods has grown with the increase in Negro population and the 
threatened occupancy in small or large degree by Negroes. These non- 
adjusted neighborhoods fall into distinct classes : 

I. Neighborhoods of unorganized opposition. These are neighborhoods 
where few Negroes Hve. Though contiguous they are sharply separated 
from areas of Negro residence and are definitely hostile to Negroes, even those 
passing through the neighborhood going to and from work, but the hostility 
in them is unorganized. 


2. Neighborhoods of organized opposition, (a) Neighborhoods in which 
no Negroes live but which are in the line of Negro expansion. Opposition 
to threatened invasion has been strong. As yet they are exclusively white, 
and every effort is being made to keep them so. They are illustratively 
treated here as "exclusive neighborhoods." (b) Neighborhoods in which the 
presence of Negro residents is hotly contested, by organized and unorganized 
efforts to oust them. These for convenience are termed "contested neighbor- 


In Certain West Side neighborhoods white property owners objected to 
the expansion of the principal Negro residence area of that section. 

The pastor of the Negro Presbyterian Church on Washington Boulevard, 
who came to Chicago in 1919, bought the houses at 2006 and 2008 Washington 
Boulevard, in which white people had formerly Hved. He moved into one of 
them in May, 1919, and both he and his tenants in the other house received 
warning letters advising them to mo\e or take the consequences. The last of 
these was received during the riot in July, 1919. No attention was paid to them. 

During the riots httle trouble was experienced by the Negroes in the 
West Side district, who generally remained in their own houses and neighbor- 
hoods. Some became involved in clashes on their way to or from work, but 
there was no serious clash. 

The district west of Cottage Grove Avenue and south to Sixty-third 
Street in Woodlawn is rather sparsely built up, most of the buildings being 
one- and two-family houses. Numbers of white people in the neighborhood 
beHeve that the district has been bhghted because of the occasional presence 
of Negroes. 

On the North Side some hostihty to Negroes was shown during the 19 19 
riot. One Negro, who had Hved on North Franklin Street for five years and 
in Chicago for thirty years, told of having been spit at by rowdy ItaHans, 
and on another occasion threatened with shooting by young roughs in a 
passing automobile. WTiite neighbors, however, intervened. Under pressure 
of the riot excitement, some Itahan children pushed through windows and doors 
pictures of skulls and coffins inked in red. At the time of the riot Eli Bates 
House issued a circular deploring race hatred and appeahng for order and 

Although the few Negroes Hving in the Lake Park Avenue area' have 
experienced httle opposition in their present homes, there has been no Negro 
expansion there. The colony, has in fact, dwindled in size since 1910. It is 
made up largely of Negroes who were house servants for white famihes near-by 
or worked in the hotels of the district. 

Negroes of this colony are barred from all white restaurants in the district 
except one place conducted by a Greek. In three of the motion-picture houses 

' See "Negro Population of Chicago," p. 107. 


they are not allowed to sit in the best seats. In one of these theaters a sign 
reads, "We reserve the right to seat our patrons to suit ourselves." Negroes 
are permitted in the balcony or in the rear seats of the main floor. 

On Langley, St. Lawrence, and adjoining streets south of Fifty-fifth Street 
there is considerable friction resulting from the presence of Negroes. 

There are residence districts of Chicago adjacent to those occupied by 
Negroes in which hostility to Negroes is so marked that the latter not only 
find it impossible to five there, but expose themselves to danger even by passing 
through. There are no hostile organizations in these neighborhoods, and active 
antagonism is usually confined to gang lawlessness. Such a neighborhood is that 
west of Wentworth Avenue, extending roughly from Twenty-second to Sixty- 
third streets. The number of Negroes living there is small, and most of them 
live on Ada, Aberdeen, and Loomis streets, south of Fifty-seventh Street. 
In the section immediately west of Wentworth Avenue and thus adjoining the 
densest Negro residence area in the city, practically no Negroes five. In 
addition to intense hostility, there is a lack of desirable houses. Wentworth 
Avenue has long been regarded as a strict boundary line separating white and 
Negro residence areas. The district has many "athletic clubs. "^ The contact 
of Negroes and whites comes when Negroes must pass to and from their work 
at the Stock Yards and at other industries located in the district. It was 
in this district that the largest number of riot clashes occurred.^ Several 
Negroes have been murdered here, and numbers have been beaten by gangs 
of young men and boys. A white man was killed by one of two Negroes 
returning from work in that district, who declared that they had been intimi- 
dated by the slain man. Speaking of this district, the principal of the Raymond 
School, a branch of which is located west of Wentworth Avenue, said that 
antagonism of the district against Negroes appeared to have been handed 
down through tradition. He said: 

We get a good deal of the gang spirit in the new school on the other side of Went- 
worth Avenue. There seems to be an inherited antagonism. Wentworth Avenue 
is the gang line. They seem to feel that to trespass on either side of that line is 
ground for trouble. While colored pupils who come to the school for manual training 
are not troubled in the school, they have to be escorted over the line, not because of 
trouble from members of the school, but groups of boys outside the school. To give 
another illustration, we took a little kindergarten group over to the park. One 
little six-year-old girl was struck in the face by a man. A policeman chased but 
failed to catch him. The condition is a tradition. It is handed down. 


"Exclusive neighborhoods." — In neighborhoods which are exclusive on the 
basis of social class, whose restrictions apply to Negroes and the majority 
of whites aUke, the high price of property is a sufficient barrier against Negroes ; 

• See "Gangs" and "Clubs" under "Racial Clashes." 
^ See "Clashes." 


it is in the neighborhoods where property values are within the means of Negroes 
that fears of invasion are entertained. In many new real estate subdivisions 
houses are sold on easy payments. Almost without exception these sections 
are exclusively for whites, and usually it is so stated in the prospectus. Other 
sections longer established come to notice when some incident provokes the 
expression of opposition aheady organized and awaiting it. 

Such a section is the neighborhood known as Park Manor and Wakeford. 
This neighborhood hes between Sixty-ninth and Seventy-ninth streets, and 
Cottage Grove and Indiana avenues. It is newly built, chiefly with small 
dwellings, most of them not more than five years old. Many of the residents 
had Uved in a neighborhood to the north, nearer Woodlawn, whose growth of 
Negro population had caused some of them to move. Park Manor and 
Wakeford were startled by the following advertisement in the Chicago Daily 
News in July, 1920: 

For sale — Colored Attention: homes on Vernon, South Park and Indiana Aves. 
Sold on easy terms; come out and look this locality over; Protestant neighborhood, 
Park Manor and Wakeford; good transportation. Blair, 7455 Cottage Grove 

Blair, a real estate agent, denied all knowledge of the advertisement and 
attributed it either to an enemy or to a practical joker. He sent notices to be 
read the following day in the nine churches of the district, so stating, deploring 
the occurrence and pledging himseh to aid the other residents in excluding 
Negroes and in hunting down the author of the advertisement. 

Meanwhile the entire district had been aroused, and a meeting called for 
the evening of July 12, in front of a church at Seventy-sLxth Street and St. 
Lawrence Avenue. About 1,000 people gathered for this meeting, which was 
conducted by the presidents of the South Park Manor and Wakeford Improve- 
ment Associations. The former announced that he had visited the Daily 
News and learned that the advertisement had been handed to a clerk in type- 
written form and with a typewritten signatiure, and paid for in advance, 
whereas Blair's regular advertising was done on a charge account. This and 
other information tended to show that the agent was not responsible for the 
advertisement. In its issue of Monday, July 12, the Daily News printed an 
explanatory statement. 

Other speakers at the meeting were a real estate dealer and an alderman. 
Considerable indignation was expressed over the false light in which the 
community had been placed. Even the suggestion that Negroes might by 
chance become a part of this community seemed to be abhorrent. As far as 
Negroes were concerned there was no excitement, but they resented being 
used to frighten white residents. 

"Contested neighborhoods." — The contested neighborhoods are by far the 
most important among the types of non-adjusted neighborhoods, both because 
of the actual presence in them of varying numbers of Negroes and their 





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bearing on the future relations of the races. The efforts in such neighborhoods 
to keep out Negroes involve stimulation of anti-Negro sentiment and organi- 
zation of property owners, and the campaign against the presence of Negroes 
as neighbors develops into a campaign against Negroes. Negroes in turn 
resent both the propaganda statements and the organized efforts. A continu- 
ous struggle, marked by bombings, foreclosures of mortgages, and court dis- 
putes, is the result. 

The most conspicuous type of a "contested neighborhood" is that known 
as Kenwood and Hyde Park. In this general neighborhood, from Thirty- 
ninth to Fifty-ninth streets and from State Street to Lake Michigan, hostility 
toward Negroes has been plainly and even forcibly expressed through organized 
efforts to oust them and prevent their further encroachment. The situation 
is pecuhar. This is the part of the old South Side in which most of the Negro 
population of Chicago has settled. The so-called "Black Belt" has been 
overcrowded for years. Old and deteriorated housing and its insufficiency have 
been steadily driving Negroes out of it in search of other homes. 

It was inevitable that the great influx of migrants should overflow into 
surrounding territory. Many migrants brought funds, having sold out their 
homes and other possessions. Negroes who had lived for some time in the 
"Black Belt" were eager to escape from it, and here was their opportunity. 
They did not wish to go too far from their churches and other established 
institutions, and Hyde Park was immediately adjoining. 

Conditions in Hyde Park during 19 16 and 19 17 favored the overflow. 
Numbers of new, and in some instances high-grade, apartment houses had 
been built during the previous ten or fifteen years. Many whites were leaving 
their individual houses to live in these apartments or to move to the North 
and South Shore regions. The houses had become less desirable, and many of 
them were vacant. The district, except for certain definite neighborhoods, 
had lost much of its former aristocratic air, with the coming of rooming- and 
boarding-houses. During 1914, 1915, and 1916 many houses and apartments 
in Hyde Park were vacant or were rented at low prices. Inducements were 
offered to prospective tenants in the form of extensive decorations and repairs, 
or some rental allowance. 

Negroes bought houses and apartment buildings and rented anything 
rentable. This expansion of the Negro boundaries was promoted by both 
white and Negro real estate agents and property owners with little opposition. 
These men soon learned that Negroes, with their increased wages due to war 
conditions, were able to make first pajnnents, at least, on houses and to rent 
better houses or flats than they had previously been obHged to occupy. 

Then the entrance of the United States into the war in 1917 and the 
suspension of building operations occasioned a house shortage which became 
acute in 19 18. The white demand for dweUings began to exceed the supply. 
Real estate men of the neighborhood began to discuss plans for re-establishing 


it as an exclusively white neighborhood. A survey by the Kenwood and Hyde 
Park Property Owners' Association showed that of the 3,300 property owners 
in the district, about 1,000 were Negroes. Neighbors had objected little, the 
entrance of the Negroes having been so gradual that it was almost unnotice- 

Both Kenwood and Hyde Park, using these terms in the more restricted 
sense of the original residential locaHties that bore the names, had enjoyed the 
activities of local improvement organizations whose function it was to keep 
the streets sprinkled and clean, to procure better Hghting, and otherwise 
improve civic conditions. The Kenwood and Hyde Park Property Owners' 
Association became prominent in 1918 on account of its agitation to "make 
Hyde Park white." In October, 1918, a form letter was sent out calling a 
meeting of the Grand Boulevard district of this Association for October 20. 
The letter said in part: "We are a red blood organization who say openly, 
we won't be driven out. We make no secret of our methods, they are effective 
and legal." A dodger announcing the same meeting read: 

Every white person Property Owner in Hyde Park come to this meeting. Protect 
your Property. 

Shall we sacrifice our property for a third of its value and run like rats from a 
burning ship, or shall we put up a united front and keep Hyde Park desirable for 
ourselves ? It's not too late. 

The Grand Boulevard district, described as extending from Thirty-ninth 
to Sixty-third streets, and from Michigan to Cottage Grove avenues was 
included in the consoHdated organization of the Hyde Park and Kenwood 
districts. This Association, as was asserted by its president, also had the 
co-operation of three other similar organizations, one in the Washington Park 
district, the Lake Front Community Property Owners' Association, operating 
in the district north of Thirty-ninth Street and south of Thirty-third Street, 
east of Cottage Grove Avenue; and one in the Englewood district, which is 
southwest of Hyde Park. 

Organization of sentiment: It does not appear that the residents of this 
neighborhood rose spontaneously to oppose the coming in of Negroes. If this 
had been the case, the first Negroes moving into the district in 191 7 would have 
felt the opposition. The sudden interest in race occupancy was based upon 
the alleged depreciation of property by Negroes. With this emphasized, it 
was not difficult to rally opposition to Negroes as a definite menace. The real 
estate men gave the alarm, alleging a shrinkage in property values. The effort 
through the Hyde Park and Kenwood Association was intended to stop the 
influx and thereby the depreciation. Meetings were held, a newspaper was 
pubHshed, and hterature was distributed. Racial antagonism was strong in 
the speeches at these meetings and in the newspapers. The meeting which 
probably marked the first focusing of attention on the Kenwood and Hyde 
Park districts was held May 5, 1919, when the sentiment was expressed that 


Negro invasion of the district was the worst calamity that had struck the city 
since the Great Fire. A prominent white real estate man said: "Property 
owners should be notified to stand together block by block and prevent such 

Distinctly hostile sentiments were expressed before audiences that came 
expecting to hear how their property might be saved from "almost certain 
destruction." A speaker at one of the meetings said in part: 

We are taught that the principle of virtue and right shall be the rule of our 
conduct in all of our transactions with our fellow-men, and therefore it is our duty 
to help the Negro, to uplift him in his environment, mark you, not ours. But it is 
not our duty, now mark this, it is not our duty as I see it, nor is it according to the 
laws of nature for us to live with him as neighbors or on a social basis. There is an 
immutable, unchanging law that governs the distribution, association and conduct 
of all living creatures. Man is no exception to the universal rule. In every land and 
clime man obeys the second law of his nature and seeks his own kind, avoiding every 
other, and ever, ever is he warring with his unlike neighbor, families, classes, societies, 
tribes, and nations. 

There are men who proclaim to the world and ourselves that the destiny of the 
black man and the white man is one. I do not believe it; I cannot believe it. Now, 
listen! As far back as September 18, 1858, in his famous joint debate with Stephen 
A. Douglas, Abraham LiacoLn, that wonderful, Godlike man, the liberator of the 
slaves, said this (Now listen, 1858, over sixty years ago): "I am not nor ever have 
been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white 
and the black race. I am not nor ever have been in favor of qualifying them to 
intermarry with white people, and I wUl say in addition to this, that there is a physical 
difference between the white and black races living together on terms of social and 
political equality." 

Other remarks of speakers at these meetings were: 

The depreciation of our property in this district has been two hundred and fifty 
millions since the invasion. If someone told you that there was to be an invasion 
that would injure your homes to that extent, wouldn't you rise up as one man and 
one woman, and say as General Foch said: "They shall not pass" ? 

There isn't an insurance company in America that will turn around and try to 
buck our organization when we as one man give them to understand that it is danger- 
ous to insure some people. 

Why I remember fifteen or twenty years ago that the district down here at 
Wabash Avenue and Calumet was one of the most beautiful and highest-class neigh- 
borhoods of this great city. Go down there today and see the ramshackle broken- 
down and tumble-down district. That is the result of the new menace that is 
threatening this great Hyde Park district. And then tell me whether there are 
or not enough red-blooded, patriotic, loyal, courageous citizens of Hyde Park to save 
this glorious district from the menace which has brought so much pain and so much 
disaster to the district to the south of us, 


You cannot mix oil and water. You cannot assimilate races of a different 
color as neighbors along social lines. Remember this: That order is heaven's 
first law. 

Throughout the meetings, profession was made of friendliness toward the 
Negroes, together with a desire to serve their needs and accord them fair 
treatment. The Property Owners^ Journal, published by the Association, was 
less guarded. While some of its columns made similar professions, its remarks 
in other columns were characterized by extreme racial bitterness and 

An apparently concihatory attitude was also taken by speakers at meetings 
of the Hyde Park Association and its Grand Boulevard branch. In a meeting 
of the latter on January 19, 1920, the chairman declared that he wished to 
say for publication: "We have no quarrel with the colored people. We have 
no desire to intimidate them by violence." The mission of the organization, 
he said, was peaceable, and it was the purpose to proceed according to law and 
order. The Association, he averred, had been charged " by the colored press" 
with being parties to bombing outrages. He wanted it known that "we have 
denounced officially the action of anyone or any set of people who would indulge 
in a practice of that character." The story of the bombing campaign is given 
in another section of this report. 

At another meeting it was asserted that the Kenwood and Hyde Park 
Association had a membership of 1,000 persons, and it was estimated that in 
the district to which it applied the investment in real estate was $1,000,000,000. 
The purpose of the organization was declared to be "to guard that 
$1,000,000,000 against depreciation from anything." One speaker said he 
did not believe there was a piece of property west of Cottage Grove Avenue 
in Hyde Park that was worth 33 cents on the dollar "as it stands now with 
this invasion." He said his home cost about $25,000, but he felt safe in saying 
that he could not then get $8,000 for it. A city alderman was one of the 
speakers at this meeting. 

Most of the real estate dealers in the area were claimed as members of the 
Kenwood and Hyde Park Association or its Grand Boulevard branch. Special 
reference was made at various times and in scathing terms to dealers who 
declined to affiUate. At the meeting of the Grand Boulevard district on 
January 19, 1920, it was reported that the Executive Committee of the parent 
association had succeeded during the previous two or three months in educating 
real estate men. "The colored man," a speaker said, "would have never 
been in this district had not our real estate men in their ambition to acquire 
wealth and commissions, which is perfectly legitimate, put them here, although 
this action on their part has been very shortsighted, as some of them now 
admit." This speaker said also that the Association's "greatest successes" 
had been in getting all but five or six of the real estate men to sign a pledge 

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not to show or rent or sell any property "within our locality that we claim 
jurisdiction of in the future to colored people." 

The Property Owners' Journal exerted no little influence in the creation 
of this sentiment. Claiming a wide circulation, its utterances were so 
extreme in bitterness against Negroes that many of the residents of the district, 
although opposed to the coming in of Negroes, held aloof from the organization 
because they could not indorse appeals to race hatred and advocacy of measures 
which they felt were illegal and dangerously near to violence. These extracts 
are from its issue of December 13, 19 19: 

To damage a man's property and destroy its value is to rob him. The person 
who commits that act is a robber. Every owner has the right to defend his property 
to the utmost of his ability with every means at his disp)Osal. 

Any property owner who sells property anywhere in our district to undesirables 
is an enemy to the white owner and should be discovered and punished. 

Protect your property! 

Property conservatively valued at $50,000,000 owned by some 10,000 individuals 
is menaced by a possible Negro invasion of Hyde Park. The thing is simply impossible 
and must not occur. 

These are from its issue of January i, 1920: 

As stated before, every colored man who moves into Hyde Park knows that he 
is damaging his white neighbors' property. Therefore, he is making war on the white 
man. Consequently, he is not entitled to any consideration and forfeits his right 
to be employed by the white man. If employers should adopt a rule of refusing to 
employ Negroes who persist in residing in Hyde Park to the damage of the white 
man's property, it would soon show good results. 

The Negro is using the Constitution and its legal rights to abuse the moral 
rights of the white. 

This is from its issue of February 15, 1920: 

There is nothing in the make-up of a Negro, physically or mentally, which should 
induce anyone to welcome him as a neighbor. The best of them are insanitary, 
insurance companies class them as poor risks, ruin alone follows in their path. They 
are as proud as peacocks, but have nothing of the peacock's beauty. Certain classes 
of the Negroes, such as the PuUman porters, political heelers and hairdressers are 
clamoring for equality. They are not content with remaining with the creditable 
members of their race, they seem to want to mingle with the whites. Their inordinate 
vanity, their desire to shine as social lights caused them to stray out of their paths 
and lose themselves. We who would direct them back where they belong, towards 
their people, are censured and called "unjust." Far more unjust are their actions 
to the members of their race who have no desire to interfere with the homes of the 
white citizens of this district. The great majority of the Negroes are not stirred 
by any false ambition that results only in discord. Wherever friction arises between 
the races, the suffering is usually endured by the innocent. If these misleaders are 
sincere in their protestations of injustice, if they are not hypocritical in their pretence 
of solving the race question, let them move. Their actions savour of spite against 


the whites, whose good will can never be attained by such tactics. The place for 
a Negro aristocrat is in a Negro neighborhood. 

In the same issue, under the heading Caveat Vendor (Let the Seller Beware) 
appeared the following: 

People who sell their property to Negroes and take first and second mortgages 
and promises to pay monthly sums do not know what risks they are taking in trying 
to collect the money. Mrs. Nora Foster of 4207 Prairie sold her house to some 
niggers and when she went to collect she was assaulted and thrown down a flight of 
stairs. This is not a case of saying it served her right because more than seven of 
her neighbors sold before Mrs. Foster did, but it does serve as a splendid example 
of the fact that niggers are undesirable neighbors and entirely irresponsible and 

The Negroes' innate desire to "flash," to hve in the present, not reckoning the 
future, their inordinate love for display has resulted in their being misled by the 
example of such individuals as Jesse Binga and Oscar De Priest. In their loud mouth- 
ing about equality with the whites they have wormed their course into white neighbor- 
hoods, where they are not wanted and where they have not the means to support 

Keep the Negro in his place, amongst his people and he is healthy and loyal. 
Remove him, or allow his newly discovered importance to remove him from his proper 
environment and the Negro becomes a nuisance. He develops into an overbearing, 
inflated, irascible individual, overburdening his brain to such an extent about social 
equaUty, that he becomes dangerous to all with whom he comes in contact, he consti- 
tutes a nuisance, of which the neighborhood is anxious to rid itself. 

Another building which has been polluted by Negro tenancy is to be renovated 
on May ist Either the Negro must vanish or decay sets in. Who is next? 

Misleaders of the Negro, those flamboyant, noisy, witless individuals, who, by 
power of superior gall and gumption, have blustered their way into positions of promi- 
nence amongst their people, wonder why this district resents their intrusion. To allow 
themselves an opportunity to parade their dusky persons before an audience of their 
followers, these misleaders held a meeting of the Protective Circle (composed, no 
doubt, of Negro roundheads), at which a varied assortment of Negro preachers, 
politicians and other what nots exposed our methods and organization work. With 
much comical oratory, they dangled our association before the spellbound eyes of 
their sable dupes and after extreme fummg and sweating appointed about fifteen 
committees to annihilate all Hyde Parkers. 


A form of organized resistance to the coming of Negroes into new neighbor- 
hoods was the bombings of their homes and the homes of real estate men, 
white and Negro, who were known or supposed to have sold, leased, or rented 
local property to them. 

From July i, 19 17, to March i, 192 1, the Negro housing problem was 
marked by fifty-eight bomb explosions. Two persons, both Negroes, were 
killed, a number of white and colored persons were injured, and the damage 
to property amounted to more than $100,000. Of these fifty-eight bombs, 


thirty-two were exploded within the square bounded by Forty-first and 
Sixtieth streets, Cottage Grove Avenue and State Street. With an average 
of one race bombing every twenty days for three years and eight months, 
the poHce and the state's attorney's office succeeded in apprehending but two 
persons suspected of participation in these acts of lawlessness. One of these, 
James Macheval, arrested on the complaint of C. S. Absteson, a janitor, 
was released on a $500 bond. At the writing of this report, one year after the 
arrest, there has been no trial. Another man was apprehended, questioned, 
held under surveillance for two days by the poHce, and finally released. 

News of threatened bombings in many cases was circulated well in advance 
of the actual occurrence. Negroes were warned of the exact date on which 
explosions would occur. They asked for poHce protection, and, in some 
instances where police were sent beforehand, their homes were bombed, and 
no arrests were made. 

The persons directing these bombings did not limit their intimidations to 
Negro residents in white neighborhoods; residences of Negroes and white 
real estate men were bombed because they had sold or rented property 
in these exclusive areas to Negroes, and Negro bankers' houses were bombed 
because they made loans on Negro property and supported their mortgages. 

These bombings increased rapidly in frequency and damaging effect. 
The six months' period ended October i, 1920, witnessed as many bombings 
as the entire thirty-five months preceding. Prior to 1919 there were twelve 
bombings. Four of these were directed at properties merely held by Negro 
real estate men as agents, two of them in Berkeley Avenue just north of 
Forty-third Street, and near the lake. Five were in the 4500 block on Vincennes 
Avenue, two at 4200 Wabash Avenue, and one at 4732 Indiana Avenue. 

Bombing of real estate men's properties appears to have been part of a 
general scheme to close the channels through which the invasion proceeded 
rather than a protest of neighbors. The four explosions in the 4500 block on 
Vincennes Avenue appear to have been deliberately aimed at the tenants. 
This block is at the center of the neighborhood most actively opposed to the 
coming in of Negroes. In January, 1919, a white and a Negro real estate 
agent were bombed; in March, Jesse Binga's real estate office at 4724 State 
Street and an apartment at 4041 Calumet Avenue were bombed. In April 
there were two more bombings, one of a realty office. Following a pubhc 
meeting on May 5 to arouse white property owners of the Hyde Park district 
against Negro invasion, there were four bombings. Between January i, 1920, 
and March i, 1920, there were eight bombings in eight weeks. Responsibility 
for the creation of the sentiment thus expressed was in some instances assumed 
by organizations. For example the Property Owners' Journal, in its issue 
for February i, 1920, said: 

Our neighborhood must continue white. This sentiment is the outgrowth of the 
massmeeting of property owners and residents which was held Monday, January 19. 


Mr. George J. Williams furnished the climax of the meeting when he informed the 
audience in terse, pithy language that "Hyde Park enjoys a reputation too splendid 
as a neighborhood of white culture to allow Negroes to use it as their door mat." 

In the issue of December 13, 1919, white and Negro real estate men and 
owners selling property to Negroes in the district were "branded as unclean 
outcasts of society to be boycotted and ostracized in every possible manner," 
and W. B. Austin, white, was accused of violating a gentleman's obligation to 
his community in selling a home to a Negro. It was asserted falsely that the 
house which he had sold had been used during the race riots as a "rendezvous 
for Negroes who fired volleys of revolver shots from doors and windows at 
white boys in the street who, according to the testimony of neighbors, had 
not attacked the premises." 

On December 26 the home of J. H. Coleman, a white real estate man who 
had sold a house to a Negro, was bombed. The transaction was not public, 
and occupancy was not to take place for five months. On December 27 the 
home of Jesse Binga, a Negro real estate man, was bombed. One week later, 
on January 6, came the bombing of W. B. Austin, on the North Side. 

During 1919 and 1920 committees and delegations of whites and Negroes 
appealed to the chief of police, the mayor. State's Attorney Hoyne, and the 
press, but nothing was done. The mayor referred these matters to his chief 
of police. The police were unable to discover the bombers or anyone directing 
them. The state's attorney, in response to appeals, emphatically defined his 
duty as a prosecuting rather than an apprehending agent. All the while, 
however, the bombings continued steadily; no arrests except the two mentioned 
were made; and the Negro population grew to trust less and less in the interest 
of the community and the public agencies of protection. 


The circumstances of the bombings were investigated by the Commission, 
and details of what happened in several typical cases are here presented. 

Bombing of the Motley home.— In 1913 S. P. Motley, Negro, and his wife purchased 
a building at 5230 Maryland Avenue through a white agent, and on March 15, 1913, 
the family moved in. For four years they lived there without molestation save the 
silent resentment of neighbors and open objection to the presence of Negro children 
in the streets. On July i, 191 7, without warning or threat, a bomb was exploded in 
the vestibule of the house, and the front of the building was blown away. The 
damage amounted to $1,000. Police arrived from the station at Fifty-second Street 
and Lake Park Avenue ten minutes after the explosion. No clews were found and 
no arrests were made. The original owner of the building was bitterly opposed to 
Negroes and was a member of an organization which was seeking to keep Negroes 
out of the district. 

Some time after this incident it was rumored that Motley was planning to purchase 
the building adjacent. At 4:00 a.m. June 4, 1919, a dynamite bomb was exploded 
under the front of the house adjacent and tore up its stone front. The neighbors 





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were in the street immediately after the explosion. No clews were found and no 
arrests were made. The Alotley famUy on this occasion was accused of inviting 
another Negro family into the block. The new family in question negotiated 
for its own property, and before an actual settlement had been made, received numer- 
ous telephone messages and threats. It moved in, but was not bombed. 

Bombing of Moses Fox's home.— Moses Fox, white, connected with a "Loop" 
real estate firm, lived at 442 East Forty-fifth Street. The house was too large, and 
he decided to move to smaller quarters. The building was sold through a real estate 
firm to persons whom he did not know. On March 10, 1920, a few days after the sale, 
he received a telephone call informing him that he must suffer the consequences of 
seUing his home to Negroes. At 7 : 30 that evening an automobile was seen to drive 
slowly past his home three times, stopping each time just east of the building. On 
the last trip a man alighted, and deposited a long-fuse bomb in the vestibule. The 
fuse smoked for four minutes. Attracted by the smoke. Fox ran toward the front 
of the house. The bomb exploded before he reached the door. It was loaded with 
dynamite and contained slugs which penetrated the windows of buildings across 
the street. The evening selected for the bombing was the one on which Patrolman 
Edward Owens, Negro, was off duty and a white policeman was patrolling his beat. 
The bombing was witnessed by Dan Jones, a Negro janitor, and Mrs. Florence 
De Lavalade, a Negro tenant. The front of the building was wrecked and all the 
windows shattered. Damage amounting to |i,ooo was done. No arrests were 

Bombing of Jesse Binga's properties.— Jesse Binga is a Negro banker and real 
estate man. His bank is at 3633 State Street, his real estate office at 4724 State 
Street, and his home at 5922 South Park Avenue. He controls more than $500,000 
worth of property and through his bank has made loans on Negro property and taken 
over the mortgages of Negroes refused by other banks and loan agencies. 

On November 12, 1919, an automobile rolled by his realty office and a bomb 
was tossed from it. It left the office in ruins. The police were soon on the scene, 
but the car was well beyond reach by the time of their arrival. No clews to the 
bombers were found, and no arrests were made. It was the opinion of the poUce 
that white residents of the Hyde Park district resented Binga's handling of Negro 
property in that district. 

Twenty-one days later an automobile drew up in front of Binga's home at 5922 
South Park Avenue, and its occupants put a bomb under the front steps. It failed 
to explode. WTien the firemen arrived they found it sizzling in the slush beneath 
the porch. The police declared that this was an expression of racial feeling. 

Twenty-five days later the bombers reappeared and left a third bomb. It tore 
up the porch of Binga's home. Again the police found that the explosion had been 
caused by "racial feeling," white men having said that "Binga rented too many flats 
to Negroes in high-class residence districts." The house was repaired and police 
provided to guard the house. At twelve o'clock each night the guard changed watch. 
On the night of February 28 the policeman on duty until twelve o'clock left a few 
minutes early, and the policeman relieving him was just a few minutes late. In this 
unguarded interval an automobile swung around the corner, and as it passed the 
Binga home a man leaned out and tossed a bomb into the yard. The bomb Ut in 
a puddle of water and the fuse went out. It was found that the bomb had been 


made of black powder, manila paper, and cotton. The explanation of the attempt 
was that "his $30,000 home is in a white neighborhood." 

A police guard was still watching the house on the night of June 18, 1920, when the 
bombing car appeared again. On this occasion neither policeman was in sight when 
the car drew up. A man alighted this time and carefully placed the bomb. The 
explosion that followed almost demolished the front of the house and smashed windows 
throughout the block. This last explosion damaged the home to the extent of $4,000. 
Binga offered a reward of $1,000 for the apprehension of those guilty of these repeated 
acts of lawlessness. 

On November 23 Binga was bombed again. This time the bomb damaged his 
neighbors more seriously than it did Binga's property. No clews were found and no 
one was arrested. 

Bombing of R. W. Woodfolk's home. — R. W. Woodfolk, Negro banker and real 
estate dealer, purchased a flat at 4722 Calumet Avenue. It was an investment of 
the Merchants and Peoples' Bank, 3201 South State Street, which he controlled. 
The building was occupied by one white and four Negro families. On the evening 
of February i, 1920, a person with keys to the building locked the tenants in their 
apartments, sprung the locks of the doors leading to the street, and planted a bomb 
in the hallway. The explosion ripped up the hall and stairway, tore away the brick 
work around the entrance, and shattered the windows of adjacent buildings. The 
damage was estimated at $1,000. No arrests were made. 

Bombing of the Clarke home.— Mrs. Mary Byron Clarke, Negro, purchased through 
W. B. Austm, a white banker and real estate man, properties at 4404 and 4406 Grand 
Boulevard, vacant for a year at the time of purchase, and previously used by prosti- 
tutes. A real estate dealer herself, she had frequently been assisted by Austin in 
financing her transactions, one of which was the sale to Negroes of Isaiah Temple ^ 
a Jewish synagogue at Forty-fifth Street and Vincennes Avenue. 

The dwellings were renovated and she moved into one of them; the other she 
rented. During the riot of July, 191 9, her home was attacked by a mob. When the 
poKce arrived in response to a call by the Clarkes, they battered in the doors at the 
demand of the mob and arrested Mr. and Mrs. Clarke. They were acquitted. On 
January 5, 1920, the house was bombed. The explosion caused $3,360 worth of 
damage. The building was again bombed February 12, 1920, this time with a dyna- 
mite bomb thrown through the plate-glass door in the hallway from a passing auto- 
mobile. The stairway was knocked down and large holes blown in the wall. The 
police came, found no clews, and made no arrests. At the request of Mrs. Clarke 
a special poKceman was detailed to guard the property. 

Numerous threatening letters and telephone calls followed, all of which were 
reported to the police. There were threats of another bombing if she did not sell, 
and there were visits from representatives of real estate interests in Hyde Park 
making offers. 

Tuesday evening, April 13, 1920, a third bomb was exploded in spite of the 
presence of the two special policemen. The bomb was thrown from the premises of 
Frederick R. Barnheisel, an immediate neighbor, a telephone wire deflected it, and 
it landed near the Clarke garage. 

Mrs. Clarke made a statement concerning this bombing before the Commission 
in which she said: 


"Wednesday [the day following the third bombing] we got a letter saying 'move 
out or sell, there is nothing else for you to do. We missed you last night but we will 
get you the next time. We are determined.' A letter prior to that stated if we did 
not get out they would 'get our hides.' 

"There has been some sinister influence brought to bear on the insurance company 
since the riot and since the first bombing. We have had our house insured against 
bombing since the first bombing. The first damage of about I500 they paid and 
canceled the insurance on 4404 Grand Boulevard. The second bomb did damage 
to the extent of $3,360. They wrote saying they would cancel it, subject however 
to pending loss. There was a clause calling for settlement within sixty days. After 
sixty days we would have to enter suit to get it. The sixty days have passed, and there 
has been no attempt to settle. Some of the glass has been replaced. They have 
accepted it, and there has been no disposition on their part to settle. 

"Berry, Johnston, & Peters, the men with whom we have had the most business 
dealings, have insisted that we sell the place. Mr. Peters said last week he could 
get a buyer from the Hyde Park-Kenwood Association people, also said if any indebt- 
edness remained on the contract or deeds, that the money must first be paid to them, 
then to us. We have been careful not to let any indebtedness, even for ten days, 
come against 4406." 

Bombing of Crede Hubbard's home. — Following is part of Hubbard's statement 
to the police immediately after the bombing of his home at 4331 Vincennes Avenue 
on the night of April 25, 1920: 

"The day on which I had planned to move, a man who said he was Mr. Day, of 
the Hyde Park and Kenwood Association, telephoned me. He said : ' I hear you have 
acquired property and you are dissatisfied with it; we can take it off your hands — 
relieve you of it.' 1 rephed that I didn't think I needed any help. He asked, 'What 
do you expect to do ?' I said, 'I expect to move into it or sell it if I can get my price.' 
I moved on Tuesday and Wednesday he called in person. He said, ' I called to find 
out if you want us to sell or handle your property for you.' I told him I thought I 
could handle it, and that I was not anxious to sell but would consider selling if I could 
get an offer of say $11,000. He replied that his buyers were not able to go that far. 
He continued, 'The point is, I represent the Hyde Park-Kenwood Association. We 
have spent a lot of money and we want to keep this district white.' I asked him 
w^hy they had not thought of buying the property before and told him that the house 
had been for sale for eight months. He replied that it was a lamentable fact that 
they had overlooked it. I told him that I heard the Hyde Park Association had a 
$100,000 slush fund out of which $100 was paid for each bombing. He said he would 
have some of his buyers come in and look over the property. Shortly afterward, 
Mr. Stephen D. Seman and another man came and represented themselves as buyers. 
They looked over the inside of the house. I only carried them through the halls. 
Mr. Seman said, 'You only paid $8,500 for this property.' I told him that he had 
been misinformed, I had paid $9,000. He said, 'I will give you $9,500 for it.' I 
refused. As they were leaving he added, 'You had better consider our offer.' Soon 
after that a man named Casson, real estate man, called. I would not let him in. 
When he asked me my price I told him $11,500. 

"A week later a delegation from the Hyde Park Association called. The spokes- 
man began: 'I am Mr. Austin. You understand the nature of our business with 


you, I suppose.' .... I told the chief clerk of the office of the Northwestern Railroad 
to inform you that we were coming to see you. We are the Hyde Park-Kenwood 
Association and you will understand that you are not welcome in this district. We 
want to know what can be done.' I replied that I didn't know what could be done 
unless they wanted to buy; otherwise I expected to live there, and my price was 
$11,500. They continued, 'Do you suppose if I moved into a black district where 
I wasn't wanted, that I would want to live there ?' I said, 'If you had bought property 
there and liked the property, I don't see why you should move.' They said, 'Why 
do you persist in wanting to live here when you know you are not wanted ?' I said, 
'I have bought property here and I am expecting to Uve here.' Then they filed out of 
the door, and one of the members stated, 'You had better consider this propo- 

"In the office of the Northwestern Railroad, Mr. Shirley called me in and read 
a letter to me which he had received from Mr. Austin. 'Murphy, his name is,' 
he said, 'I know him fairly well, and I simply want to make an answer to the letter. 
Don't think I am trying to influence you one way or the other. This is the letter: 
it goes about like this: "Crede Hubbard has purchased a three-flat buUding at 4332 
Vincennes Avenue. Property values are always shot to hell when Negroes move in. 
Use whatever mfluence you have to induce him to sell and find out for us his lowest 
figures."' He added, 'Don't think I am trying to brow-beat you into selling this 

"On the following Sunday night on my way back to Milwaukee, I read in 
the paper that my house had been bombed. My family was at home, my two boys 
sleeping about ten feet from the place that was most seriously damaged. The bomb 
was placed inside the vestibule. The girl there heard a taxicab drive up about 
twenty-five minutes to twelve and stop for a few minutes and start off again. About 
six minutes after the taxicab stopped, the explosion came, and in about five minutes 
there were not less than 300 people on the street in front of the place asking questions. 
There were a number of plain-clothes men in the crowd. I told my story to the 
chief of police and to a sergeant of the police and they said it was evidence enough to 
warrant the arrest of the officials of the Association named, but they also thought 

that it would do no good 'The thing we will have to do is to catch somebody 

in the act, sweat him and make him tell who his backers are.' 

"The police believe that the actual bombing is being done by a gang of young 
rough-necks who will stop at nothing, and they expect a pretty serious encounter if 
they are interfered with. A big automobile is being shadowed now by the police. 
It is used by this bunch of young fellows under suspicion, and it is thought that they 
keep the car well loaded with ammunition, and whoever attacks them must expect 
trouble. There are four plain-clothes men on guard in this district now. The 
police told me to get anything I want from a Mauser to a machine gun and sit back 
in the dark, and when anybody comes up to my hallway acting suspiciously to crack 
down on him and ask him what he was there for afterwards." 

Bombing of the Harrison home. — Mrs. Gertrude Harrison, Negro, living alone 
with her children, contracted to buy a house at 4708 Grand Boulevard. In March, 
1919, she moved in. She immediately received word that she had committed a 
grave error. She and her children were constantly subjected to the insulting remarks 
both of her immediate neighbors and passers-by. 


This bomb was thrown into a building at 3365 Indiana Avenue, occupied by Negroes. A 
six-year-old Negro child was killed. 


On May 16, 1919, a Negro janitor informed her that neighbors were planning 
to bomb her house. She called up the Forty-eighth Street poHce station and told of 
the threatened danger. The officer answering the telephone characterized her report 
as "idle talk" and promised to send a man to investigate. The regular patrolman 
came in and promised to "keep an eye on the property," but there were ten blocks 
in his beat. A special guard was secured and paid by Mrs. Harrison when it was 
learned that one would not be furnished by the police. 

The following night, May 17, her house was bombed while the patrolman was 
"punching his box" two blocks away and the special watchman was at the rear. 
A detail of pohce was then provided both at the front and rear. The following 
night a bomb was thrown on the roof of the house from the window of a vacant flat 
in the adjoining apartment house. The flat from which the bomb was thrown had 
been unlocked to admit the bombers and locked again. The police failed to question 
either the persons living in the apartment or those leaving it immediately after the 

The first explosion blew out the front door and shattered the glass in the front 
of the house. The bomb was filled with gravel and bits of lead. The second was of 
similar character, but did not do as onuch damage. No arrests were made. 

In all these fifty-eight bombings the poKce have been able to accomplish 
nothing definite. Practically every incident involved an automobile, descrip- 
tions of which were furnished by witnesses. The precautions taken to prevent 
bombings, even if they were well planned and systematically carried out, 
failed lamentably. 


Increasing frequency of bombings, failure of the police to make arrests, 
and the apparent association of these acts of open violence with the white 
residents of Hyde Park drew out explanations. 

Pastors of churches in the district who, it had been charged, helped to 
give circulation to printed sentiments of the organized opposition to the 
"invasion" were strong in their repudiation. The menace to law and order 
was definitely recognized and the pubHc given to understand that neither the 
pastor nor his congregation had encouraged acts of lawlessness in any manner. 
In a statement to a Commission investigator, one of these pastors said, "I am 
not in sympathy with the methods and am very doubtful about the aims of 
the Property Owners' Association and have, therefore, been unable to join 
them or indorse their efforts." 

A local paper, the Real Estate News, published a long article in February, 
1920, on "Solving Chicago's Race Problem." It was directed at South Side 
property owners and carried a stern warning "against perils of boycott and 
terrorism being promoted by local protective associations." Referring to 
the bombing outrages, fhis paper, under the heading "Danger in Boycotts 
and Bombs," said: 

In Kenwood and Hyde Park, particularly, a number of "protective associations" 
have been formed. Property owners have been urged to join these bodies, which, 


without attempt at concealment, advocate a boycott against all persons of a certain 
race. At meetings of these groups there has been open advocacy of violence. There 
has been incendiary talk. Bombs and bullets have been discussed, and speakers 
talking thus have been applauded. There have been repeated acts of violence. 
Night bombing of Negro homes and apartments has taken place. Bombing and 
shooting is increasing in frequency. 

The time has come, we believe, for a word of solemn warning to aU South Side 
property owners. It is: Keep out of those associations. If you are now in, get out! 
For you are in great danger of the penitentiary! You are in grave peril of losing 
your property by damage suits! 

Another excerpt, under the heading "Perils of 'Protective' Organizations," 

No one can justly criticize men for forming organizations to protect or advance 
their own interests lawfully. Property owners ought to unite wherever practicable 
for proper and lawful purposes beneficial to themselves. For such unions operate 
to the welfare of aU. 

Recently, however, a number of men have joined in forming and promoting 
organizations on the South Side which are perilous to themselves and to every property 
owner who joins them. Owners of real estate should be the last men in the world 
to get mixed up in movements involving violence, threats, intimidations, or boycotts. 
Because they are responsible. Their wealth cannot be concealed. Judgments 
against them are collectible. 

Under the heading "Drastic Laws Forbid Conspiracies": 

The law of conspiracy is drastic. Conspiracy is an association together of 
persons for the purpose of doing an unlawful thing in an unlawful way, or a lawful 
thing in an unlawful way, or an unlawful thing in a lawful way. Under the law, 
all persons in a conspiracy are equally guilty. One need not throw a bomb, or even 
know of the intent of throwing a bomb, to be found guilty. The act of one, no matter 
how irresponsible, is the act of aU. 

Any association formed in Chicago for the purpose of, or having among its aims, 
refusal to sell, lease or rent property to any citizen of a certain race, is an unlawful 
association. Every act of such an association for advancement of such an aim is 
an act of conspiracy, punishable criminally and civiUy in the District Court of the 
United States. And every member of such an association is equally guilty with 
every other member. If one member hires a bomber, or a thug who commits murder 
in pursuance of the aims of the association, all the organization may be found guilty 
of conspiracy to destroy property or to commit murder, as the case may be. 

This entire article was widely circulated in the disturbed neighborhoods 
by the Protective Circle, an organization of Negroes, 25,000 copies being mailed 
to residents of Hyde Park. 

Residents of the district, stirred by the succession of bombings, began to 
protest. The paper of the Kenwood and Hyde Park Property Owners' Associa- 
tion reflected this feeling in a statement declaring that the Association had no 
connection with the bombings, and that its president was considering the 


advisability of assisting the authorities in apprehending these lawless individ- 
uals. On another occasion, this paper took pains to explain that the bombing of 
George A. Hyers' property on March 5 was an outgrowth of labor troubles 
and not of a property owners' organization recently formed in this community. 
At a meeting of the General Committee of the Property Owners' Association 
the following resolution was unanimously adopted: 

Whereas, Our attention has been called to various explosions of bombs in our 
neighborhood at the houses of colored people living in this vicinity, and 

Whereas, While we are anxious to persuade these people to move from this 
locality, we are opposed to violence of every description, therefore, be it 

Resolved, That we condemn the action of anyone resorting to throwing of bombs 
or other methods not in accordance with reason, law or justice. 

The attention of the city was directed to these unlawful happenings and 
protests from both white and Negro individuals made themselves heard. 
The bombings, however, did not abate in frequency. Neither were the police 
any more successful in locating their sources. 


From the beginning Negroes were outspoken in their indignation over the 
bombings, but their protests had no apparent effect in checking the outrages. 

The attacks, however, have made the Negroes firm in their stand. Mrs. 
Clarke was bombed four tunes; she still Hves in the property and declares 
that she will not be driven out. Jesse Binga has been bombed six times but 
states he will not move. Only two of the forty Negro famihes bombed have 
moved; the others have made repairs, secured private watchmen or themselves 
kept vigil for night bombers, and still occupy the properties. 

Following the bombing of Jesse Binga on June 18, 1920, the Chicago Daily 
News quoted him as saying to a pohceman, "This is the hmit; I'm going." 
When his attention was called to the statement he promptly repHed: 

Statements relative to my moving are aU false. My idea of this bombing of my 
house is that it is an effort to retard the Binga State Bank which will take over the 
mortgages of colored people now buying property against which effort is being made 
to foreclose. I will not run. The race is at stake and not myself. If they can make 
me move they will have accomplished much of their aim because they can say, "We 
made Jesse Binga move; certainly you'll have to move," to all of the rest. If they 
can make the leaders move, what show will the smaller buyers have ? Such headlines 
are efforts to intimidate Negroes not to purchase property and to scare some of them 
back South. 

In February a group of Negroes formed themselves into a body known as 
the Protective Circle of Chicago, the purpose of which, as stated in its constitu- 
tion, was "to combat, through legal means, the lawlessness of the Kenwood 
and Hyde Park Property Owners' Association and by organized effort to brmg 
pressure to bear on city authorities to force them to apprehend those persons 
who have bombed the homes of twenty-one Negroes." 


A mass meeting was held February 29, 1920, with 3,000 Negroes present. 
A popular appeal for funds for the purposes of this organization raised $1,000. 
Attacks were directed against the Kenwood and Hyde Park Property Owners' 
Association. A representative of the Protective Circle said in part: 

The Hyde Park Property Owners' Association is not a new thing. It is more 
than eighteen years old. Eighteen years ago they proposed fourteen points as a 
platform for their Association. The thirteenth point was that they would keep out 
undesirables. AU Negroes were classed as undesirables. Ten years ago Dr. Jenifer, 
a Negro minister, appeared before the Association and severely criticized the organiza- 
tion for its un-American policies. It is just recently that this organization has shown 
its hand openly, and the things that they have said and done are dangerously near to 
iUegahty. I have in my files this statement taken from a stenographic report of one 
of their meetings, made by the president of the Association: "If Negroes do not get 
out of Hyde Park, we will get Bolsheviks to bomb them out." The bombers of the 
homes of Negroes have been allowed to get away unpunished. Judge Gary hanged 
numbers of anarchists in the Haymarket riot for very much less complicity in bomb 
outrages than these men are guUty of. Hatred can never be counteracted by hatred. 
We cannot put any stop to the bombings of Negro homes by going out and bombing 
homes of white persons. 

The Negro press severely condemned the bombings, and the Negro popula- 
tion in general felt that the apathy of city authorities and even the influential 
public was responsible for continuance of the outrages. Protests were sent 
to the governor of the state. The mayor, chief of poUce, and state's attorney 
were persistently importuned to stop the destruction of Negroes' property 
and remove the menace to their lives. Negroes pointed out, for example, 
that the authorities had shown ability to apprehend criminals, even those 
suspected of bomb-throwing. They cited the bombing of the home of a profes- 
sional white "gunman," when eleven suspected bombers were caught in the 
dragnet of the state's attorney within thirty hours. Yet in fifty-eight bombings 
of Negro homes only two suspects were ever arrested. 

In March, 1920, a Commission from the Chicago Church Federation 
Council sent a delegation to Mayor Thompson, Chief of PoUce Garrity, and 
State's Attorney Hoyne, to demand action on the bombing of Negroes' homes. 
Prominent white and colored men comprised this delegation. A prominent 
Negro, testifying before the Commission, said that he, with other Negroes, 
both from the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement 
of Colored People, and from other organizations, had carried their grievances 
to city officials. He said: 

We have been to the mayor's ofiice, we have been to the state's attorney's ofifice 
we have sent representatives to both these offices, and nothing has been done — 
possibly something is being done, but nothing of great moment. I think that the 
colored people feel that they are so insecure in their physical rights that rather than 
take any chance they're going out and paying whatever the charge is for insurance 
against bombing. 


Another delegation of Negroes in June, 19 19, twice attempted to register 
a complaint with the mayor against bomb outrages. The mayor's secretary, 
however, refused them an audience with the mayor. 

The editors of local daily papers have also been visited by mixed white 
and Negro delegations in an endeavor to arouse public opinion. 

The effect of these delegations and protests has been small. One joint 
conference with the mayor, chief of pohce, and state's attorney brought out 
the information that it was beyond the state's attorney's province to make 
arrests. The mayor, after some discussion, instructed Chief of Police Garrity to 
do what he could toward putting a stop to the bombing of Negroes' homes. The 
chief of poHce, after explaining the shortage of patrolmen, said he would do so. 

The bombing question began to figure in local pohtics. Charges were 
made before the primary election of September, 1920, that the city administra- 
tion had not given Negroes the protection it had promised. The matter of 
apprehending the "nefarious bomb plotters" was included in the platforms 
of Negroes running for office, and in those of white candidates seeking Negro 

The Commission had neither authority nor facihties for accomphshing 
what all pubHc agencies had signally failed to do. It could, however, and did, 
go over the trail of the bombers and collect information which shows that the 
sentiment aroused in the contested neighborhoods was a factor in encouraging 
actual violence. Whatever antagonisms there were before the agitation were 
held in restraint, even though Negroes were aheady neighbors. Other dis- 
tricts, like Woodlawn and sections of the North Side, undergomg almost 
identical experiences as those of Hyde Park, have had no violence; the absence 
of stimulated sentiment is as conspicuous as the absence of violence. In the 
Hyde Park district, between Thirty-ninth and Forty-seventh streets and State 
Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, four-fifths of the bombings occurred. 
All but three of those happening outside the district were against real estate 
men accused of activities affecting the Hyde Park District. It seemed, 
especially in the first bombings, that the bombers had information about 
business transactions which the general pubhc could not ordinarily get. Houses 
were bombed in numbers of cases long before their occupancy by Negroes. 
Each of the bombings was apparently planned, and the opportune moment 
came after long vigil and, as it would seem, after deliberately setting the 
stage. The first bombing of Binga does not appear to have been the result 
of resentment of neighbors in the vicinity of his home, for it was his office on 
State Street that was bombed. His office is in a neighborhood around which 
there is no contest. 


The Grand Boulevard Property Owners' Association officially decided 
that its object should be "the acquisition, management, improvement and dis- 
position, including leasing, sub-leasing and sale of residential property to both 


white and colored people within the said district heretofore described." This 
district was to include the area from Thirty-fifth to Sixty-third streets, and 
from the Chicago and Rock Island Raihoad tracks to Lake Michigan. 

In August, 1920, the manager of the Association cited an instance in which 
it had functioned. On Vernon Avenue a white man had sold property direct 
to Negroes. The next-door neighbor had arranged a similar sale to potential 
Negro buyers. The neighbor next to him, a widow, loath to lose her home, 
appealed to the Association. After a conference with the possible Negro 
buyers, their money was returned to them, the Association purchased the house 
in question, and the whole matter was thus amicably arranged. 

During April, 1920, inquiries were made by the Commission into the unrest 
caused by rumors that 800 Negro famihes intended to move into Hyde Park. 
It developed that May i, the customary "moving day," was feared both by 
whites in Hyde Park and by Negroes in and out of Hyde Park. Negroes 
hving there feared that an attempt would be made to oust them by canceUng 
or refusing to renew their leases, and whites thought Negroes might get posses- 
sion of some of the properties vacated on that date. The Commission found, 
however, only eighteen instances where leases were canceled on houses occupied 
by Negroes who were having difficulty in finding other places to live. 

In the summer of 1920 the Kenwood and Hyde Park Property Owners' 
Association stated that sixty-eight Negro famihes had been moved through 
cancellation of leases and mortgage foreclosures. 

Incidental to the general plan of opposition to the entrance of Negroes in 
Hyde Park was the sending of threatening letters. For example, in August, 
1919, a leading Negro rea estate agent and banker received this pen-printed 
notice by mail: 

Headquarters of the White Hands 
Territory, Michigan Ave. to Lake Front 

You are the one who helped cause this riot by encouraging Negroes to move into 
good white neighborhoods and you know the results of your work. This trouble 
has only begun and we advise you to use your influence to get Negroes to move out 
of these neighborhoods to Black Belt where they belong and in conclusion we advise 
you to get off South Park Ave. yourself. Just take this as a warning. You know 

what comes next. 


Warning Com. 

This man's home and office have been bombed a number of times. Efforts 
were made to buy out individual Negroes who had settled in the district, as 
well as to cause renters to move out. There are numerous incidents of this 
nature, with indications of many others. A Negro woman who was hving in 
the district, told one of the Commission's investigators that she and her 
husband had formerly Uved in the 3800 block of Lake Park Avenue. White 
neighbors caused them so much trouble that they had moved and bought the 


apartment house in which they are now living, renting out the second and third 
flats. Almost immediately white people began to call and inquire whether 
she was the janitress, or whether she was renting or buying the place. When 
she gave evasive answers, letters began to arrive by mail. One letter was 
shpped under the door at night. These letters informed her that she was pre- 
venting the sale of the adjoining house because she would not sell and no white 
person would live next door to her. She was advised that it would be best 
for her to answer and declare her intentions. Two white women called and 
offered her $1,500 more than she had paid for the property. She refused 
and a few days later she received a letter demanding an immediate answer, 
to the Kenwood and Hyde Park Property Owners' Association. 

Later three white men in overseas uniforms inquired as to the ownership 
of the property, asking if she was the janitress and if she knew who the owner 
was. She answered in the negative. One of the men tore down a " For Sale " 
sign on the adjoining property, and another informed her that it was the inten- 
tion to turn the neighborhood back to white people and that all Negroes 
must go. 

This woman is the president of a neighborhood protective league, including 
the Negroes in several of the blocks thereabouts. She received a letter from 
the Kenwood and Hyde Park Property Owners' Association asking the pur- 
poses and intentions of this league. 

This woman also reported that a man had been going about the neighbor- 
hood under the pretext of making calling cards, advising Negroes to sell out 
and leave the neighborhood, as it was better not to stay where they were not 
wanted. Another white man who had been about the neighborhood selling 
wearing apparel, told her that two Negro families in the neighborhood would 
be bombed. She inquired how he knew this and was told to wait and see. 
Within two weeks these bombings had taken place. 


In considering the expansion of Negro residential areas, the most important 
is the main South Side section where more of the Negro population lives. 
This group is hemmed in on the north by the business district and on the 
west by overcrowded areas west of Wentworth Avenue, called in this report 
"hostile." During the ten years 1910-20 business houses and light manu- 
facturing plants were moving south from the downtown district, pushing ahead 
of them the Negro population between Twelfth and Thirty-first streets. At 
the same time the Negro population was expanding into the streets east of 
Wabash Avenue. This extension was stopped by Lake Michigan, about 
eight blocks east. Negro famihes then began filtering into Hyde Park, immedi- 
ately to the south. 

In 19 1 7 the Chicago Urban League found that Negroes were then living on 
Wabash Avenue as far south as Fifty-fifth street east of State Street, where 


they had moved from the district west of State Street. From Thirty-first 
to Thirty-ninth streets, on Wabash Avenue, Negroes had been Hving from 
nine to eleven years, and the approximate percentage of Negroes by blocks 
ranged from 95 to 100; from Thirty-ninth Street to Forty-seventh Street 
they had been living from one to five years and averaged 50 per cent. The 
movement had been almost entirely from the west and north. 

On Indiana Avenue, from Thirty-first to Forty-second streets, a similar 
trend was revealed. In the 3100 block, Negroes had been hving for eight 
years, in the 3200 block for fourteen years; in the more southerly blocks their 
occupancy had been much briefer, ranging down to five months. In the 
most northerly of these blocks Negroes numbered 90 per cent and in the most 
southerly only 2 per cent. 

On Prairie Avenue, farther east, two Negro famiHes bought homes in the 
3100 block in 191 1, but the majority of the Negroes had come in since 1916. 
The percentage of Negroes in that block was 50. From Thirty-second to Thirty- 
ninth Street the blocks were found to have more than 90 per cent Negroes. 
One family had been there five years and the average residence was one and 
one-half years. No Negroes were found from Fortieth to Forty-fourth Street 
on Prairie Avenue. There were two families in the 4500 block, and none south 
of that. 

On Forest Avenue, from Thirty-first to Thirty-ninth Street, 75 per cent 
of the famiUes were Negroes and had Uved there less than six years. 

On Calumet Avenue, the next street east of Prairie, Negroes had begun 
to live within four years. The population was 75 per cent Negro from Thirty- 
first to Thirty-ninth Street. None Uve south of Thirty-ninth Street, except 
at the corner, where they had been living for five months. 

A similar situation was found on Rhodes Avenue, still farther east, from 
Thirty-first to Thirty-ninth Street. Negroes had Hved in Vincennes Avenue, 
the next street east, less than two years, and in Cottage Grove Avenue, still 
farther east less than one year. 

South Park Avenue and its continuation, Grand Boulevard (south of 
Thirty-fifth Street) was the most recent street into which Negroes had moved 
in large numbers. This had occurred within the years 1915-17. The first 
Negro famihes had moved into the 3400 block less than four years previously. 
The percentage of Negroes between Thirty-first and Thirty-fifth streets was 
less than 50. Within five months two Negro famihes had moved into the 
hitherto exclusively white 3500 block. 

Few Negroes had moved from east of State Street to west of that street. 


The Commission's investigation being confined to the city of Chicago, 
the growing Negro colonies in such suburbs as Evanston and Glencoe were not 
studied, but attention was given to two southwestern outlying neighborhoods 


in the east part of Morgan Park, just inside the city limits, and the village of 
Robbins, wholly Negro, just outside. 


In 1910, 126 Negroes lived in Morgan Park, with a total population of 
5,269. In 1920 the area had been incorporated in the city of Chicago, and 
there were 695 Negroes in a total population of 7,780 occupying approximately 
the same area. 

In its early days Morgan Park was the site of a theological seminary, 
which in 1892 became part of the University of Chicago. The first Negroes 
there were servants, mostly from the South, working in the households of the 
professors. The colony remained, and its more recent increase was due in 
considerable measure to the influx of well-to-do Negroes from farther north in 
Chicago, many of whom bought houses. In some cases Negroes in congested 
Negro residential areas sold out to Negroes arriving in the migration and 
re-estabHshed themselves in much better dwellings and surroundings in Morgan 

Less prosperous Negroes also came, despite the feeling of some home 
owners that too great an influx of that type would injure property values and 
render the neighborhood less desirable. Many of these work in the South 
Chicago steel mills and the shops at Pullman. Some work in the Stock Yards. 

A number of Negroes of Morgan Park are employed at the Chicago City 
Hall. Some are porters on Pullman cars. Only a small number are laborers. 
Many of the women sew or work as car cleaners and seem reluctant to do 
housework even at day wages. 

Physically Morgan Park is attractive with comfortable homes and large 
grounds. Several churches, a number of schools, and an attractive park all 
add to the desirabiHty of the place as a "home town." The lots are deep, 
affording plenty of space for gardens, and many vacant lots are cultivated. 
The opportunity for garden patches is an attraction for many Negroes. There 
are two Negro churches, Methodist and Baptist, and a Colored Men's Improve- 
ment Association which has provided a social hall for the Negro population. 

School faciUties are inadequate, and the buildings are old and overcrowded. 
Because of this congestion, it becomes necessary for children in the sixth and 
higher grades to go three miles to a school on Western Avenue. About twenty 
Negroes attend the high school. In the Esmond Street school approximately 
25 per cent of the children are Negroes. The Negroes have repeatedly requested 
enlarged school facilities. They want a new building conveniently situated 
for their children. 

The white people of Morgan Park are not unfriendly toward their Negro 
neighbors, though there seems to be a common understanding that Negroes 
must not live west of Vincennes Road, which bisects the town from northeast 
to southwest. A Negro once bought a house across the line but found he 


was so unwelcome that he promptly sold again. More recently the owner of a 
three-story brick flat building rented to Negroes the twenty flats above his 
stores. A protest was made by both white and Negro house owners, so that 
he was forced to eject the Negro tenants. 

The demand for homes is shown in the numbers of Negroes who go to 
Morgan Park on Sundays by automobile, street car, and train. In the spring 
of 1920 a number of houses were being erected for Negro occupancy in what 
is known in Morgan Park as "No Man's Land," east of Vincennes Road from 
109th to 1 1 2th streets. This swampy tract of land was being reclaimed. 
Streets had been surveyed and laid out, though with httle paving. Water, 
light, and gas were available, and some efforts at drainage had been made, 
leaving some stagnant pools. Other plans involved the building of eighty 
five-room bungalows by a Chicago contractor. Six of these were under con- 
struction at the time of the investigator's visit, and five had been sold, corner-lot 
houses at $4,550, houses on inside lots at $4733°- 

Morgan Park Negroes appear to be progressing financially. An ofi&cer 
of a local trust and savings bank said that they met their obligations promptly, 
only occasionally defaulting or suffering foreclosure and then only because of 
illness, death, or loss of employment. The same officer said savings accounts 
of Negroes were increasing in mmiber, though small in amount. 

Whites and Negroes maintain a friendly attitude. During the 1919 riots 
a number of conferences took place between Negroes and white people of 
Morgan Park. The Negroes kept rather close to their own neighborhood, 
and the only difficulty the poHce had was in controUing rowdy white boys. 

Younger children of the two races play together in the school yards. A 
teacher in the Esmond Street school declared that no distinction was made 
between Negroes and whites in that school. It was noted, however, that 
when games were played, this teacher directed the Uttle Negroes to take little 
Negro girls as partners. Some prejudice is discernible among whites in the 
community, but there is an evident desire to be fair and to give the Negroes 
every reasonable opportunity to exemplify good citizenship so long as they 
dp not move from their own into the white neighborhoods. 

Those famihar with the Morgan Park settlement beUeve that it offers 
unusual inducements as a home community for Negroes. The contractor who 
is ah-eady building for Negroes there has confidence in the venture. He has 
dealt before with Negroes and found them satisfactory cHents. 


This village is the only exclusively Negro community near Chicago with 
Negroes in all village ofi&ces. 

Robbins is not attractive physically. It is not on a car line and there is no 
pretense of paved streets, or even sidewalks. The houses are homemade, in most 
cases by labor mornings, nights, and holidays, after or before the day's wage- 


earning. Tar paper, roofing paper, homemade tiles, hardly seem sufficient to shut 
out the weather; older houses, complete with windows, doors, porches, fences, 
and gardens, indicate that some day these shelters will become real houses. 
In 1920 the village took out its incorporation papers, and while there are some 
who regret this independence and talk of asking Blue Island to annex it, in 
the main the citizens are proud of their village and certain of its future. There 
are 380 people all told, men, women, and children, hving in something more 
than seventy houses. It is a long mile down the road to the street car, but 
daily men and women trudge away to their work, taking with them the feeling 
of home ownership, of a place for the children to play unmolested, of friends 
and neighbors. 

These men and women find many kinds of work in the neighboring 
towns — at the mills, on the raikoads, m the factories. Many of the women 
work in the factory of Libby, McNeil & Libby. Their wages go into payments 
for their homes. Men and women together are living as pioneer families 
lived — working and sacrificing to feel the independence of owning a bit of 
ground and their own house. 



Negroes have been living in Chicago since it was founded. In fact, Jean 
Baptiste Point de Saible, a San Domingan Negro, was the first settler and in 
1790 built the first house, a rude hut on the north bank of the Chicago River 
near what is now the Michigan Boulevard Bridge. 

There are records of Negroes owning property in Chicago as early as 1837, the 
year of its incorporation as a city. In 1844 there were at least five Negro prop- 
erty owners and in 1847 at least ten. Their property was in the original first and 
second wards of the city, one on Lake Street, others on Madison, Clark, and 
Harrison, and Fifth Avenue. In 1848 the first Negro church property was 
purchased at the corner of Jackson and Buffalo streets, indicating the presence 
of the first colony of Negroes. In 1850 the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law 
caused many to flee for safety to Canada, many of the property owners dispos- 
ing of their holdings at a great loss. In 1854 Negroes held two pieces of church 
property in the same general locality. Although the great majority lived on 
Clark and Dearborn streets north of Harrison Street, there was a tendency 
among the property-owning class to invest in outlying property. Some of 
them bought property as far south as what is now Thirty-third Street. 

The year of the Great Fire, 1871, Negroes owned four pieces of church 
property. That fire stopped at Harrison Street and did not consume all 
of the Negro settlement. A second large fire in 1874 spread northeast and 
burned 812 buildings over an area of forty-seven acres. With the rebuilding 
of the city they were pushed southward to make room for the business 


In 1900 the most congested area of Negro residence, called the "Black 
Belt," was a district thirty-one blocks long and four blocks wide, extending 
from Harrison Street on the north to Thirty-ninth Street on the south, between 
Wabash and Wentworth avenues. Although other colonies had been started 
in other parts of the city, notably the West Side, at least 50 per cent of the 
1900 Negro population of 30,150 Uved in this area. As this main area of Negro 
residence grew, the proportion of Negroes to the total Negro population Hving 
in it increased until in 1920 it contained 90 per cent of the Negroes of the city. 


In the discussion of race contacts attention is called to the pecuUar con- 
ditions which compel Negroes of the city to develop many of their own institu- 
tions and agencies. Partly from necessity and partly from choice, they have 
established their own churches, business enterprises, amusement places, and 
newspapers. Living and associating for the most part together, meeting in 
the same centers for face-to-face relations, trusting to their own physicians, 
lawyers, and ministers, a compact community with its own fairly definite 
interests and sentiments has grown up. 

The institutions within the Negro community that have been developed 
to aid it in maintaining itself and promoting its own welfare, are of four general 
types: (i) commercial and industrial enterprises; (2) organizations for social 
intercourse; (3) religious organizations; (4) agencies for civic and social 


Cormnercial and industrial establishments conducted by Negroes are 
listed by Ford S. Black in his yearly Blue Book, which serves as a directory 
of Negro activities. They increased from 1,200 in 1919 to 1,500 in 1920. 
The compilation lists 651 on State Street, the main thoroughfare, 549 on 
principal cross streets, and more than 300 on other streets. The increase is 
strikingly shown in the following figures: In 19 18 Negro business places on 
Thirty-first Street numbered nine and seventy-one in 1920; on Thirty-fifth 
Street there were forty-seven in 1918 and seventy-seven in 1920. On Cottage 
Grove Avenue, Negroes have only recently estabUshed themselves in large 
numbers, yet between Twenty-eighth and Forty-fifth streets there are fifty- 
seven Negro business places, including nine groceries, three drug-stores, and 
two undertaking estabhshments. 

A partial Ust of business places as listed in Black's Blue Book is given: 

Art stores 

14 Barber shops 


Automobile schools and repair 




10 Blacksmith shops 


Bakeries, wholesale and retail 

13 Book and stationery stores 



2 Chiropodist 




The largest Xegro church in Chicago (old building), at Twenty-ninth and Dearborn streets 

Located at Fiftieth Street and Wabash Avenue, built by Negroes 



The largest Negro church in Chicago, larger and more modern building, Thirty-first Street and 
South Park Avenue, purchased recently by Negroes. 




Cleaning, dyeing, and repairing 

establishments 68 

Clothing stores 8 

Decorators 12 

Dressmaking shops 32 

Drug-stores 31 

Electricians and locksmiths 9 

Employment agencies 15 

Express and storage offices 71 

Fish markets 7 

Florists 5 

Furnace and stove repairing 6 

Groceries and delicatessens 119 

Hairdressing parlors 108 

Hotels II 
Ice-cream and confectionery stores 7 

Insurance companies 3 

Jewelers 5 

Laundries 2 

Medicine specialists 9 

MiUinery shops 15 

Music and musical instruments 

Newspapers and magazines 

Musicians and music teachers 







Public stenographers 

Real estate offices 



Shoemaking and repairing shops 

Shoe-shining parlors 

Sign painters 

Soft-drink parlors 


Toilet articles 

Undertaking estabUshments 

Vending machines 

















Various organizations for social intercourse and mutual helpfulness have 
developed in the Negro community. Some are local lodges or branches of 
national organizations, and others are purely local and independent. Some are 
simply for social intercourse, and others have in addition benefit features, 
professional interests, etc. Frequent reference is made in the family histories 
given in this report to these various organizations. 

Fraternal organizations. — Fraternal organizations are an old institution 
among Negroes. In the South they rank next in importance to the church; 
in the North they have considerable prestige. Membership is large and interest 
is strong. Following is a list of the most active in Chicago: 

Elks, Great Lakes Lodge No. 43, LB.P.O. 

Elks of the World (an independent 

order of EUcs) 
Ancient Order of Foresters 
CathoHc Order of Foresters 
American Woodmen 
Builders of America 
Knights of Pythias 
Mosaic Templars of America 


Grand Court Heroines of Jericho of Illi- 
Eastern Star 
The Golden Circle 
Odd FeUows (G.U.O. of O.F.) 
Royal Circle of Friends 
United Brotherhood of Friendship 
Sisters of the Mysterious Ten 

All of these organizations, although having their own rituals, serve as a 
means of group control and of exchange of views and opinions. They are also a 


guaranty against absolute friendlessness, and that is perhaps one of the strongest 
motives for the establishment of the first organizations years ago. Much chari- 
table and relief work is carried on by these fraternal bodies among their members. 

Out of these associations have grown clubs with social activities among 
wider circles. There are, for example, the Easter Lily Club, the Mayflower 
Club, and the Masonic Progressive Club. 

Social clubs. — Many of the clubs and societies with social, educational, 
or professional interests are modeled after those of the larger community. 
There are, for example, the Arts and Letters Society, the University Society, 
and Civic Study Club. There are also many smaller clubs organized for 
various purposes, but designed principally to serve the Negro community. 
There are more than seventy women's clubs, leagued in the Chicago Federation 
of Colored Women's Clubs. There are also the Art and Charity Club, Chicago 
Union Charity Club, Cornell Charity, Dearborn Centre, Diana Charity, 
East End 30th Ward, East Side Woman's Club, Eureka Fine Arts, Fideles 
Charity, Giles Charity, Hyacinth Charity, Ideal Embroidery Art, Ideal 
Woman's Club, Imperial Art, Kenwood Center, Mental Pearls, Mothers' Union, 
Necessity Club, New Method Industrial, North Shore, North Side Industrial, 
Motley Social Uplift, Phyllis Wheatley Club, Progressive Circle of Kings 
Daughters, 37th Ward Civic League, Volunteer Workers, West Side Woman's 
City Club, and the Woman's Civic League. 

Among the exclusive social clubs, perhaps the most important is the 
Appomattox Club. Its membership includes the leading business and profes- 
sional men, and it has a well-appointed club building. Its membership is 
limited and it carries civic and social prestige. 

The Phalanx Club is an organization of government employees. Its 
membership is large, though hmited by occupational restriction. Its interests 
are largely social. The Forty Club and Half Century Club are purely social 
and still more exclusive. 

Negro professional societies, sometimes formed because of the objections 
of whites to the participation of Negroes in white societies of a similar nature, 
include the Lincoln Dental Association, Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists' 
Association, a Bar Association, and a Medical Association. 


Negro churches. — The church is one of the first and probably one of the 
Strongest institutions among Negroes. The importance of churches in the 
Negro community lies not only in their large membership and rehgious 
influence, but in their provision of a medium of social control for great numbers 
of Chicago Negroes, and in their great value in promoting the adjustment of 

In the South the churches are the principal centers for face-to-face relations. 
They serve as a medium for the exchange of ideas, making and maintaining 


friendships, community co-operation, collective striving, group competition, 
as well as for the dissemination of information, assistance and advice on 
practical problems, and the upholding of reUgious ideals. The pastors know 
the members personally, and the church exercises a definite control over 
individual behavior. 

The church is often the only Negro social institution with an unhampered 
opportunity for development. In most southern cities, Negroes have no 
Y.M.C.A., public playground, welfare organizations, public Ubrary, gym- 
nasium, orderly dance halls, pubHc parks, or theaters. The church in a large 
degree takes the place of these and fills a vacancy created by the lack of the 
pubUc facilities ordinarily found in white communities. In many instances 
it determines the social standing of the individual Negro. No one can escape 
the opprobrium attached to the term "sinner" if he is not a member of the 
church, however successful otherwise. 

The minister is the recognized leader of the Negroes, and often their 
legal adviser and school teacher. He is responsible for the social good behavior 
of his people. No movement can get the support of the people unless it has 
his sanction. 

In the North the function of both Negro church and pastor is different. 
Negroes can find other places than the church for their leisure time; numerous 
urban and civic organizations with trained workers look after their interests, 
probably better than the church. In the Y.M.C.A. they find religion related 
to the development of their bodies and minds. In northern cities enterprises 
and movements thrive without the good-will or sanction of the clergy, and even 
against their protest. 

The field wholly occupied in the South by the church is shared in the 
North by the labor union, the social club, lectures, and poUtical and other 
organizations. Some of the northern churches, realizing this, have estabUshed 
employment agencies and other activities of a more social nature in response 
to this new demand. 

Social activities. — The churches in Chicago serve as social-contact centers, 
though not to the same extent as in the South. Frequently they arrange 
lectures, community programs, fetes, and meetings. Many of them, seeking 
to influence the conduct of the group, have provided recreation and amuse- 
ments for their members. Several churches have social-service departments, 
basket-ball teams, and literary societies. OUvet Baptist Church, with a 
membership of 9,069, maintains an employment department, rooming directory, 
kindergarten, and day nursery, and employs sixteen workers; in its social organ- 
ization there are forty-two auxiliary departments. During the last five years 
it has raised $200,000, contributed $5,600 for charitable relief, and found jobs 
for 1,100 Negroes. 

Unique among such developments is the People's Church and Metropolitan 
Community Center, organized by a group which withdrew from the Bethel 


African Methodist Episcopal Church in October, 1920. Relying solely upon its 
membership, it raised $22,000 during its first five months. Six persons are 
employed to carry on the work, one a social-service secretary. Land for a 
church building has been purchased, and plans have been made to buy a 
community-center building to accommodate several thousand people. 

Relief work. — The records of the United Charities, which assumes the care 
of dependent children of the juvenile court, show a much smaller proportion 
of appeals for aid from Negroes than might be expected. This is partly 
explained by the work of the churches in reUeving Negro families. A very 
high proportion of families below the line of comfortable subsistence belong 
to the churches, the small "store-front" churches. The number and variety 
of denominational divisions and sects increases competition for membership and 
sends pastors and members out into the community to gather in the people. 
Forty-one churches, many of them small, reported a total of $15,038 distrib- 
uted during 1920 for the rehef of the sick and distressed. 

Following is a summary of information collected by the Commission 
concerning the churches in the Negro commimity: 

Number of churches, regular and "store-front" 170 

Number visited 146 

Number of churches owning their property 49 

Value of property owned $1 ,677, 183 

Indebtedness on church properties being bought $325,895.91 

Amount collected in 146 churches during 1919 $400,000.00 

Membership of 62 of the 146 churches 36,856 

Number in Sunday school in 57 of 146 churches 16,847 

Number of persons in attendance in 64 of 146 churches 

Morning 20,379 

Evening 13 , 806 

In a very few cases, Negroes are found to be members of white churches, 
but the Negro churches have an entirely Negro membership with Negro 

"Store-front" churches. — The "store-front" church membership is merely 
a small group which, for one reason or another, has sought to worship inde- 
pendently of any connection with the larger churches. The estabhshment 
of such a church may be the result of a withdrawal of part of the membership 
of a larger church. They secure a pastor or select a leader from their own 
number and continue their worship in a place where their notions are not in 
conflict with other influences. Most frequently a minister formerly in the 
South has come with or followed his migrant members and has re-estabUshed 
his church in Chicago. Or again a group with rehgious beliefs and ceremonies 
not in accord with those of established churches may establish a church of 
its own. The groups are usually so small and the members so poor as to make 
the purchase of a building impossible. The custom has been to engage a 
smaU store and put chairs in it. Hence the name "store-front" church. 

I I 

I ^ t ^ . ! ^ ^ 

i M M ill 


,^ 63 CHURCHES ■ 

K 1 92_.._'ST0RErR0NT'CHURCHES — A 





Denominations. — The varieties of denominational divisions are wide and 
interesting. A classification on the asis of information collected by the 
Commission is given in Table VII. 




Missionary Baptist 

Free Will Baptist 

Primitive Baptist 


Methodist Episcopal 

African Methodist Episcopal 

African Methodist Episcopal Zion. . . . 

Colored Methodist Episcopal 

Independent Methodist Episcopal. . . . 




Disciples of Christ 

Saints, Holiness, and Healing Churches. 







The steady growth in the number of churches is shown in the dates of 
organization of sixty-five of them as given in Table VIII. 


Year Number 

1825-50 2 

1850-80 2 

1880-90 5 

1890-1900 5 

1900-1910 5 

I9IO-I5 12 

1915-16 4 

1917 3 

1918 15 

1919 6 

1920 6 

Total 65 

Church property. — It was not easy to determine the amount of money raised 
and handled by the Negro churches for any specific period, because only the 
better-organized churches keep accurate accounts. 

The total value of the property holdings of twenty-six of the larger and 
better-organized churches is $1,677,183.02, with a total indebtedness on 
nineteen of them of $318,595.91. In twenty of the twenty-six annual collec- 
tions aggregate $226,216.25. 


Out of loo "store-front" churches visited only seven own or are buying the 
property they use. The total value of the property of these seven churches is 
$44,300. Four of the seven have an indebtedness of $7,300; and the four that 
kept records showed a total annual collection of $5,170. 

The pastors. — A sharp division both as to education and experience is 
found between the pastors of the regular churches- and those of the "store- 
front" churches. Generally the larger churches have the better-trained, 
more experienced, and more highly salaried ministers. Exceptions are found 
in the case of one or two "hohness" churches. 

The ministers in these various churches represent a range of training from 
that of such seminaries as Newton Theological and institutions like Yale 
University, University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, down to 
that of the sixth grade in grammar school. Some have had no schooUng at 
all. The number of specially trained ministers totals twenty-one. Six of these 
are graduates of recognized northern institutions, while fourteen are graduates 
of recognized Negro institutions such as Lincoln University, Howard Univer- 
sity, Virginia Union University, and Livingston College. Four are graduates 
of standard high schools and four of other high schools below the standard 
rating. The remainder fall below the sixth grade. Among this last group 
it is not unusual to hear that " God prepares a man to preach; he does not have 
to go to school for that. All he must do is to open his mouth and God will 
fill it. The universities train men away from the Bible." 

The range of active service in the ministry is from two months to forty-four 
years. Here again the larger established churches have the ministers of longer 
service. Typical examples are found in churches Uke Bethel African Methodist 
Episcopal Church, whose pastor has had forty-four years of service; Shiloh, 
thirty-seven years; Bethesda Baptist Church, thirty-seven years; Grace 
Presbyterian Church, thirty-two years (all at this one church) ; Original Provi- 
dence, thirty-five years; Berean Baptist Church, thirty years. 


Social agencies in the Negro communities are an expression of group effort 
to adjust itseK to the larger community. Within the Negro community 
there are two types, those especially for Negroes and those which are branches 
of the agencies of the larger community but located conveniently for use by 


Chicago Urban League.— This organization is one of the thirty-two branches 
of the National Urban League whose headquarters are in New York City. 
It was established in Chicago in 191 7 during the period of heaviest migration 
of Negroes to the city. The numerous problems consequent upon this influx 
guided the development of the League's activities. Its executive board and 

Located at Prairie Avenue near Thirty-first Street, purchased recently by Negroes 





^^■K' flH 




The congregation moved from a store-front church to this edifice at Thirty-second Street and 
South Park Avenue in less than three vears after the church was estabhshed. 


Located at Thirty-third Street and Indiana Avenue. Formerly a Jewish synagogue, purchased 
recently by Negroes. 



officers are whites and Negroes of high standing and influence in both the 
white and Negro groups, and it is supported by voluntary subscriptions. 
Within four years this organization has taken the leading place among all 
the social agencies working especially among Negroes. It has a well-trained 
staff of twelve paid workers, and its work is carried out along the hues accepted 
in modern social work. The League has organized its activities as follows: 
Administration Department, Industrial Department, Research and Records 
Department, Children's Department, settlement work. 

The work of the Administration Department involves, in addition to 
general management, co-operation with other agencies and co-ordination of 
their efforts for community improvement through interracial meetings, 
conferences, and joint undertakings. 

The Industrial Department during 1920 placed more than 15,000 Negroes 
in positions, made industrial investigations in sixteen plants, provided lectures 
for workingmen in plants and for foremen over Negro workers. It also 
investigates complaints of workers, selects and fits men for positions, secures 
positions for Negroes where Negroes havetnever worked before, and assists 
in other ways the adjustment of Negroes in industry. More than 25,000 
persons passed through the department during 1920. 

The Department of Research and Records makes the investigations on 
the basis of which the programs of the League are carried out. Its information 
is a permanent and growing body of material useful to all agencies and persons 
interested in obtaining rehable information concerning Negroes in Chicago. 

The Children's Department handles cases of boys and girls and co-operates 
with the schools, juvenile protective organizations, the juvenile court and 
probation department, and various other child-helping institutions. A total 
of 540 such cases were adjusted during 1920. 

During 1919 a total of $28,659 was raised and used in the support of the 
Chicago Urban League. 

The Wendell Phillips Settlement on the West Side is under the supervision 
of the League. The settlement has a day nursery and provides a center and 
leadership for twenty-five groups in the West Side community. 

Wabash Avenue Y.M.C.A. — This organization is a branch of the local 
Young Men's Christian Association, but because of its location and the 
peculiar social problems of its membership and vicinity, it has become one of 
the strongest agencies of the community. Its work is among boys and young 
men, many of whom are industrial workers in various plants. Community 
work is vigorously promoted. In 1920 an enthusiastic group of 1,137 boys was 
enhsted in a neighborhood clean-up campaign, and 100 community gardens 
were put in operation. Moving pictures and community singing were provided 
during the summer months. The following list gives some statistics of activities 
for the first nine months of 1920. 



Attendance at building 140, 740 

Attendance at reading-room i9>402 

Attendance at Bible classes i > S14 

Attendance at industrial clubs 5 >394 

Attendance at entertainments 6, 542 

Meals served 100,610 

Dormitory attendance 71 >396 

Persons directed to rooms 614 

Persons assisted i , 526 

Persons reached through community work 10,406 

Personal religious interviews 396 

Men referred to churches 196 


Men used swimming-pool 3 >6o4 

Boys used swimming-pool 14,096 

Men and boys used shower baths 24,332 

Participated in leagues and tournament 3 >9o6 

Spectators 44 > 742 

Men attended gymnasium classes 5 >622 

Boys attended gymnasium classes 17 , 106 

In addition to the foregoing work this institution has promoted efficiency 
and industrial clubs among Negro workers in industrial plants, three glee 
clubs, noonday recreational programs, and nine baseball teams. 

During 1919 the total contributions for support were $15,353, of which 
$3,100 came from Negroes. The membership dues of the latter, however, 
totaled $16,000 and receipts from operation amounted to $143,747. 

Chicago Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored 
People. — This organization aims to carry out the general policies of the National 
Association as far as they apply to Chicago. The national purpose is to 
combat injustice against Negroes, stamp out race discriminations, prevent 
lynchings, burnings, and torturings of Negroes, and, when they do occur, to 
demand the prosecution of those responsible, to assure to every citizen of color 
the common rights of an American citizen, and secure for colored children 
equal opportunity in pubUc-school education. 

In Chicago, the principal efforts of this organization have been in the line 
of securing justice for Negroes in the courts and opposing race discriminations 
in public accommodations. Its most active period followed the riots of 1919. 
With a number of competent attorneys, white and Negro, it gave legal support 
to Negro riot victims and followed through the courts the cases of many Negroes 
accused of participation in rioting. 

Community service. — The South Side Community Service is a re-established 
organization growing out of the Soldiers and Sailors' Club. It aims to provide 
wholesome recreation and leisure-time activities for its neighborhood. At 








Community House, 3201 South Wabash Avenue, it serves a number of organiza- 
tions, arranges supervised dances, dramatics, programs, and other entertain- 
ment for the groups. 

Wendell Phillips Settlement.— The Wendell Phillips Settlement is located 
on the West Side at 2009 Wahiut Street and has been under the supervision 
of the Chicago Urban League since 19 18. It has a day nursery, serves as 
a center for twenty-five different groups, and provides the only pubUc meeting 
place for Negroes apart from the churches, on the West Side. There is a 
Boy Scout division and a division especially for women and ghls. 

Butler Community Center.— The Butler Community Center is located on 
the North Side in a neighborhood with about 2,000 Negroes. About 250 
persons use the Center regularly. There are classes in citizenship, hygiene, 
Negro history, sewing, and china painting. There is an organization of 
Camp Fire Girls and a Boys' Group. Through courses of lectures instruction 
is given in hygiene, sanitation, and first aid. 

Phyllis Wheatley Home.— The PhyUis Wheatley Home was established 
several years ago to provide wholesome home surroundings for colored girls 
and women who are strangers in the city and to house them until they find 
safe and comfortable quarters. The building at 3256 Rhodes Avenue, which 
has been purchased, accommodates about twenty girls. 

Home for the Aged and Infirm.— The Home for Aged and Infirm Colored 
People on West Garfield Boulevard is supported ahnost entirely by contributions 
from Negroes. 

Indiana Avenue Y.W.C.A. — The Indiana Avenue branch of the Y.W.C.A. 
on the South Side is under the general direction of the Central Y.W.C.A. of 
Chicago. Its directors are Negro women. Many girls are directed in their 
activities by volunteer group leaders from the community. The Industrial 
Department secures employment for Negro girls. A small number of girls 
Hve in the building at 3541 Indiana Avenue, and a room directory is maintained 
through which safe homes are secured for girls who are strangers in the city, 
or who have no family connections. Mrs. Martha G. McAdoo is the executive 

Elaine Home Club and Johnson Home for Girls. — The Elaine Home Club 
and the JuUa Johnson Home for Girls are small institutions which provide 
living accommodations under careful supervision for young working girls. 

Hartzell Center.— HsivtzeU. Center is a social institution under the direction 
of the South Park Methodist Episcopal Church. It has a commercial school, 
in which typewriting and stenography are taught, a cafeteria, and some social 

Illinois Technical School.— The Illinois Technical School for Colored Girls, 
a Cathohc Institution, serves as a boarding and technical school for colored 
girls. It accommodates about 100 girls. Sister Augustina is the superin- 


Woodlawn Community Association. — This is a neighborhood organization 
originally intended to interest the Negroes of the Woodlawn community in 
taking pride in their property and in making the neighborhood more desirable 
for residence purposes. It has extended its functions to include community 
activities and civic welfare program. 

Louise Training School for Colored Boys. — This school is at Homewood, 
Illinois, about twenty-five miles from Chicago; until 1918 it was located at 6130 
South Ada Street. It receives dependent boys between eight and fifteen years 
of age. Some of these boys are placed in the institution by the Cook County 
authorities. The institution can accommodate only a few. At present 
thirty-two boys are cared for in the dormitory. This is the only institution 
in the city for dependent colored boys. 


American Red Cross. — The American Red Cross has a branch headquarters 
at 102 East Thirty-fifth Street. It gives emergency relief, general information 
and advice, and has been active in helping the famihes of Negro service men. 
During the riot of 19 19 it provided food for thousands of Negroes who were 
cut off from work. 

United Charities. — The United Charities, which provides rehef and other 
help for needy famiUes, has four branches convenient for use by Negroes: 
one at 2959 South Michigan Avenue, near the center of the main Negro resi- 
dence area on the South Side; another at 1701 Grand Avenue, near the West 
Side Negro residence area; another at 102 East Oak Street, near the North 
Side area; and another at 6309 Yale Avenue, convenient for Negroes Uving 
in Woodlawn, in the vicinity of Ogden Park and in the southern part of the 
South Side residence area. 

The Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society. — This society has two field 
representatives who find homes for dependent Negro children and supervise 
their placing. Since 19 19 it has placed and supervised more than 168 Negro 

Abraham Lincoln Center. — The Abraham Lincoln Center is at Langley 
Avenue and Oakwood Boulevard. Although originally not used by Negroes, 
the movement of the Negro population southward has added many of them to 
the group of people using its facihties. There is a boys' group, a branch 
library, and a neighborhood visitor. Negroes are welcomed in most of the 
activities of this center. Miss Susan Quackenbush is the resident. 


Provident Hospital and Training School. — Provident Hospital and Training 
School is supported and controlled by whites and Negroes. It has a mixed 
board of directors. Practically all its physicians and all its internes and 
nurses are Negroes. For the year ended June, 1919, the hospital handled 
1,421 patients, served 682 persons through its dispensary, and gave free medical 

^wis^iiiijiip^ipi;SJS». l*^^ 


Located at 3052 South Wabash Avenue 


!^^^ii^ m%. 


Located at 3201 South Wabash Avenue 


1 L 


care to 143. Of the total number of patients in the hospital during 1919, 
1,248 were Negroes, and 173 were white. Support of the institution comes 
from patients and donations. During 1919 the receipts from patients totaled 
$36,445.81; from donations $5,782.07. Donations in drugs totaled $1,505.95, 
and from the dispensary $112.05. The expenses for the year were $42,002.35. 
The hospital has an endowment fund of $47,350, invested in securities. It has 
a training school for Negro nurses whose faculty is made up of prominent 
white and Negro physicians and surgeons. 

Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. — The two branches of this institution 
which are in Negro neighborhoods, at 2950 Calumet Avenue and 4746 South 
Wabash Avenue, and the Children's South Side Dispensary, 705 West Forty- 
seventh Street, are municipal agencies so located that they are convenient for 

South Side Dispensary. — This is at 2531 South Dearborn Street and is 
supported by the Northwestern University Medical School. It gives free care 
to those unable to pay for medical services. 


Social agencies, although their work is limited as respects the Negro group, 
have for many years taken second place to the churches in seK-support. This 
is accounted for largely by the fact that social work in general has been regarded 
as a philanthropic rather than a co-operative matter. With Negro social 
and philanthropic agencies, especially during the period of general unsettlement 
following the migration, the number of possible beneficiaries greatly increased, 
while the group of Negroes educated in giving to such agencies grew more 
slowly. Recently, however, support from Negroes for their own institutions 
has gradually been increasing. An example is found in the Urban League. 
In 1917 Negroes contributed $1,000 and in 1919 $3,000. During 1920 six 
social agencies and twenty-seven churches raised among Negroes approximately 
$445,000. Although Negroes contribute in some measure to agencies like the 
United Charities and American Red Cross, there is no means of knowing or 
accurately estimating the amount. 



Consideration of the housing problem as a continuing factor in the experi- 
ence of Negro families led to an efifort to study it from a new angle of approach 
— through histories of typical families in the Negro community. 

The data thus gathered afford an opportunity to present an interpretative 
account of Negro family life, setting forth the intimate problems confronting 
Negroes in Chicago, their daily social difi&culties, the reflection in their home life 
of their struggle for existence, just how they live, how they participate in the 
activities of the Negro community and the community at large, their own 
opinions concerning civic problems, their housing experience, how much they 
earn and how much they save, how much they spend and what value they 
receive from these expenditures, how they spend their spare time, and how 
they seek to improve their condition in the community. 

A selection was made of 274 Negro families living in all sections of Chicago. 
Three Negro women, well equipped to deal intelligently and sympathetically 
with these families, gathered this information. These 274 families lived in 
238 blocks, the distribution being such that no type of neighborhood or division 
of the Negro population was overlooked. The questionnaire employed con- 
tained five pages of questions and required an interview of about two hours. 
Special effort was made to secure purely social information without the aid 
of leading questions. 


For the most part the physical surroundings of the Negro family, as 
indicated by these family histories, are poor. The majority of these houses 
fall within the classifications noted as Types "C" and "D" in the discussion 
of the physical condition of housing.^ 

On the South Side, where most of the Negro population lives, the low 
quality of housing is widespread, although there are some houses of a better 
grade which are greatly in demand. 

The ordinary conveniences, considered necessities by the average white 
citizen, are often lacking. Bathrooms are often missing. Gas lighting is 
common, and electric lighting is a rarity. Heating is commonly done by wood 
or coal stoves, and furnaces are rather exceptional; when furnaces are present, 
they are sometimes out of commission. 

See p. 186. 



Under the heading of "Housing Conditions" such notations as these are 
often found: 

No gas, bath, or toilet. Plumbing very bad; toilet leaks; bowl broken; leak in 
kitchen sink; water stands in kitchen; leak in bath makes ceiling soggy and wet all 
the time. Plastering ofif in front room. General appearance very bad inside and out. 
Had to get city behind owner to put in windows, clean, and repair plumbing. Heat 
poor; house damp. Plumbing bad; leaks. Hot-water heater out of order. Needs 
repairing done to roof and floors. In bad repair; toilet in yard used by two families. 
Toilet off from dining-room; fixtures for gas; no gas; just turned off; no bath; 
doors out of order; won't fasten. Sanitary conditions poor; dilapidated condition; 
toilet won't flush; carries water to bathtub. Plumbing bad; roof leaks; plastering 
off; no bath or gas; general repairs needed; very dirty. Plumbing bad; plastering 
off in toilet ; window panes broken and out ; no bath or gas. Plastering off from water 
that leaks from flat above; toilet leaks; does not flush; washbowl and bath leak 
very badly; repairs needed on back porch; rooms need calcimining. No water in 
hydrant in hall; no toilet, bath, or gas; general repair needed. Water not turned on 
for sink in kitchen ; water for drinking and cooking purposes must be carried in ; toilet 
used by four families; asked landlord to turn on water in kitchen; told them to move; 
roof leaks; stairs and back porch in bad order. Sewer gas escapes from basement 
pipes; water stands in basement. House dirty; flues in bad condition; gas pipes 
leak; porch shaky. No heat and no hot water; no repairing done; no screens; gas 
leaks all over house; stationary tubs leak. Water pipes rotted out; gas pipes leak. 
Toilet leaks; plastering off; windowpanes out. Plastering off; large rat holes all 
over; paper hanging from ceiling. 

This is the common situation of the dweller in the districts mentioned. 
The variations are in degree rather than kind. To dwellings a little better 
in sanitation and repair than those just described, the adjective "fair" was 

Occasionally a Negro family manages to escape from this wretched type 
of dwelling in the "Black Belt." Some who were financially able purchased 
homes in Woodlawn, for example, where they live much as white residents do, 
supplied with the comforts and conveniences of life and in fairly clean, whole- 
some surroundings. There, as a rule, the physical equipment of their dwellings 
is good and is kept in repair. In some instances they have hot- water heating, 
electric lighting, and gas for cooking purposes. They ordinarily redecorate 
once a year, take proper care of their garbage, keep the lawns cut and the 
premises clean; and otherwise reveal a natural and normal pride of ownership. 

In this respect the Negro residents of Woodlawn are far more fortunate 
than many of their race brothers who have purchased dwellings in the " Black 
Belt." Many of these purchases have been made by migrants on long-time 
payments, and large expenditure would be required to put the houses in repair 
and keep them so. Purchases made by Negroes in Woodlawn have been chiefly 
of substantial dwellings, not necessarily new but in good condition and needing 
only ordinary repairs from time to time. 



Except where the property is owned by Negroes there is frequent moving. 
The records obtained of these movements give a great variety of reasons. 
A strong desire to improve living conditions appears with sufficient frequency 
to indicate that it is the leading motive. Buying a home is one of the ways 
of escape from intolerable living conditions, but removal to other houses or 
flats is more often tried. For example, a man who now owns his home near 
Fifty-first Street and South Wabash Avenue — living there with his two brothers 
and five lodgers — has moved sLx times, " to live in a better house and a better 
neighborhood." A family now living near Thirty-first Street and Prairie 
Avenue, resident in Chicago since 1893, has moved four times, three times to 
obtain better houses in better neighborhoods and once to get nearer to work. 
A man and wife living near Fifty-third and South Dearborn streets have moved 
four times since coming to Chicago in 1908. A family living on East Forty- 
fifth Street and paying $60 a month rent for six rooms has moved twice since 
1900 to "better and cleaner houses." Another family paying $65 a month 
for eight rooms on East Bowen Avenue has moved twice since 1905 into 
better houses and neighborhoods. " Better house " and " better neighborhood " 
were the most frequently given reasons. 

Of kindred nature are these: leaky roof; house cold; dirty; inconvenient; did 
not like living in rear flat; to better conditions; better houses away from questionable 
places; landlord would not clean; first floor not healthy; small and undesirable; 
not desirable flat; poor plumbing; didn't like neighborhood; moved to better quar- 
ters; landlord would not repair; house too damp; no windows; owner would not 
fix water pipes; more room wanted; better environment for children; better street; 
no yard for children; better people; house in bad condition; more conveniences for 


The normal family is generally recognized as consisting of five persons — 
two parents and three children. Properly they should make up a single 
group and live by themselves. The 274 families studied were chosen as 
follows: in the most populous district, from Thirty-first to Thirty-ninth 
streets and from Wentworth Avenue to Lake Michigan, ninety-nine family 
histories were taken; in the district north of Thirty-first Street to Twelfth 
Street and from Wentworth Avenue to the Lake, forty-six; in the narrow 
strip in Hyde Park known as the Lake Park district, thirty-seven; in the district 
from Thirty-ninth to Sixtieth streets and from Wentworth to Cottage Grove 
Avenue, thirty-six; on the West Side, sixteen; in the Ogden Park district, 
fifteen; on the North Side, fourteen; and in Woodlawn, eleven. For conven- 
ience, as well as to show contrasts or like conditions, the material has been 
analyzed and interpreted by districts. 

There was found a wide variation in the family groups, *-' prising six 
classifications, in three of which no lodgers appear. A lodg here means 


























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fclmLOS PARf 









• NEGRO •• 504 

I I s ! I I if S I S s ; ^ ; 5 ! i 5 

' 73- 


an adult not a member of the immediate family. Thus relatives, unless 
infants or children, are classed as lodgers. The three groups without lodgers 
are: (i) man and wife; (2) two parents and children; (3) a parent and children. 
The other three groups with lodgers are: (10) man and wife and lodgers; 
(2a) man, wife, children, and lodgers; (3a) man or woman, surviving head of 
the family, with lodgers. 

Of the total 274 family groups there were 104 without lodgers and 170, 
or 62 per cent, with lodgers. For the most part the lodgers were found in 
" 2a" classification — in families. There were ninety-two such groups and only 
sixty-one families with no lodgers. Forty-two couples had lodgers, and in 
thirty-SLx instances a man or woman living alone had lodgers. Thirty-nine 
couples were living alone, and in only four instances was there a parent alone 
with a child. 

The Negro colony in Woodlawn approaches most nearly the normal 
family grouping. Home ownership in that district is fairly common, and the 
houses for the most part are substantial and well fitted and suited to the 
families. In the eleven Woodlawn families there was but one where the mother 
or father was dead or not living with the family. Lodgers were found in only 
four of the eleven families: two were couples, one a family, and the other a 
single woman. In the eleven families there were seventeen children. 

A marked contrast with this section is found in the congested Negro 
district between Thirty-first and Thirty-ninth streets. Out of a total of 
ninety-nine families seventy- two had lodgers, or 72 per cent as contrasted 
with 36 per cent in Woodlawn and 62 per cent for the total 274 cases. In 
this district there were forty-two families with children, thirteen couples 
without children, and seventeen where a man or woman took lodgers. There 
were only fourteen families without lodgers, and thirteen couples living 

North of Thirty-first Street in this South Side area were similar conditions. 
Of forty-sLx households studied, twenty-seven, or 58.7 per cent, had lodgers: 
of these sixteen were families with children, nine were couples and two were 
man or woman with children. Of the households without lodgers, there were 
twelve families with children, five couples living alone, and two instances of 
parent and child. 

The percentage of families with lodgers was highest in the Lake Park 
district, 75.6 per cent. On the West Side it was 68 per cent, a trifle higher 
than for the entire 274 families. On the North Side it was 57 per cent, on 
the South Side between Thirty-ninth and Sixtieth streets, 41.6 per cent, and 
in the Ogden Park district 40 per cent. 

The Ogden Park district, with a relatively low percentage of families having 
lodgers, resembles the Woodlawn district in many respects. The houses are 
built for single families and are largely owned by Negroes who have lived in 
that locahty for many years. Of the fifteen families there visited, nine had 


no lodgers; and of the seven with lodgers, four were families and two were 
couples without children. 

Room crowding. — A study of Negro housing made in 1909 by the Chicago 
School of Civics and Philanthropy brought out the fact that, although Negro 
families find it extremely difficult to obtain a flat of three or four rooms, 
they do not crowd together as much as white immigrants; that Negroes take 
larger flats or houses and rent rooms to lodgers to help pay the rent, and thus 
lessen crowding among the members of the family. Among the 274 families 
studied by the Commission there was comparatively little overcrowding. 
One room to a person is a standard of room occupancy generally accepted by 
housing authorities as involving no overcrowding. Of these 274 Negro 
households, only sixty-seven exceeded the standard. There were, of course, 
wide divergences from the standard. For example, there were eight instances 
of six persons living in five rooms; six of eight persons living in six rooms; 
four of six persons living in four rooms; one of six persons living in three rooms; 
one of seven persons living in three rooms; two of seven persons living in four 
rooms; two of eight persons living in five rooms; one of nine persons living 
in five rooms; and one of eleven persons living in five rooms. 

In the cases of unusually large families, either in the number of children or 
lodgers, there was a corresponding increase in the number of rooms. Thus in 
the case of fourteen persons making up one family, they were living in ten rooms. 

The five-room dwelling was the most common, with fifty-nine families; six- 
room, forty-seven; seven-room, forty- two; four-room, forty-one. 

In the Ogden Park district the standard of one person to one room was 
most closely adhered to. AU the fifteen families studied in that district were 
housed in four-, five-, or six-room dwellings; ten of them in five-room dwellings. 
In Woodlawn the tendency was toward somewhat larger dwellings. There 
were no four- and five-room dwellings, but five of seven rooms and three of six 
rooms, one each of eight and three rooms. The four-room dwelling was most 
prevalent on the North Side. Of the fourteen families studied there, six were 
in such dwellings. There were two dwellings of six rooms, two of seven, 
one of five, two of three, and one of eleven rooms. 

On the West Side, also, thirteen of the sixteen families were housed in four-, 
five-, six-, or seven-room dwellings, the five-room type predominating. In the 
Lake Park district the five-room type was most frequent, there being eleven 
of these out of a total of thirty-seven, six of six rooms and seven of seven rooms, 
the next largest group being five of eight rooms. 

On the South Side in the district from Thirty-first to Thirty-ninth Street, 
out of a total of ninety-nine there were eighteen families in five-room dwellings, 
seventeen in four-room, nine in three-room, ten in six-room, fourteen in seven- 
room, and eight in ten-room dwellings. In the district north of Thirty-first 
Street the predominating size was six-room dwellings, of which there were 
eleven, and there were nine of four rooms, seven of five rooms, and seven of 


seven rooms, the rest scattering from one-room dwellings to one dwelling of 
thirteen rooms. From Thirty-ninth to Sixtieth streets, six-room dwellings 
were most frequent, there being eight of these out of a total of thirty-six, and 
there were seven of five rooms, six of six rooms, and six of seven rooms. The 
dwellings occupied by Negroes south of Thirty-ninth Street, it should be 
noticed, are larger than those north of that street. 

The grouping of the 274 families according to number of persons is as 

Families Persons to Family 

48 4 

40 2 

35 3 

37 5 

30 7 

29 6 

22 8 

17 9 or more 

16 Not recorded 


Four persons to a "family" was the most common type, there being forty- 
eight of these out of the 274. In the Woodlawn and Ogden Park districts 
the group of three was predominant. The North Side district grouping of 
two persons to a family is partly due to the inclusion of nine "groups" of one 
person each who were interviewed mainly for data bearing upon industrial 
relationships. The tables show a total of sixteen such groups in the eight 
districts; but they are not deemed sufficient to vitiate the statistics. 

Negroes have more space in their living quarters than do other Chicago 
people housed in similar grades of dwellings. They were usually found in 
dwellings of five rooms for each family, while the prevailing size among the 
foreign groups was four rooms, as disclosed by the Chicago School of Civics 
housing studies from 1909 to 191 7. In the School's earliest study of the 
Negroes it was said: 

The colored families do not as a rule live in the small and cramped apartments in 
which other nationahties are so often fovmd. Even the families who apply to the 
United Charities for relief are frequently living in apartments which would be con- 
sidered adequate, as far as the number of rooms is concerned, for families in com- 
fortable circiunstances. 

Some marked exceptions, of course, were found. 

The four-room dwelling was found to prevail among the Slovaks of the 
Twentieth Ward, the Lithuanians of the Fourth Ward, the Greeks and Italians 
in the neighborhood of Hull-House, the various central and southern European 
nationalities who work in the South Chicago steel mills and live near-by, 
and among the Jews, Bohemians, and Poles of the West Side. 


The lodger problem. — The prevalence of lodgers is one of the most conspicu- 
ous problems in the Negro housing situation. It is largely a social question. 
The diflficulty of finding a home adequate for a family of four or five persons 
at a reasonable rent has forced many Negroes to take over large buildings 
in better localities and in better physical condition but with much higher rents. 
To meet these rents they have taken lodgers. It was seldom possible to 
investigate the character of the lodgers. The arrangement of these large 
houses, originally intended for single-family use, prevents family privacy 
when lodgers are added, making a difficult situation for families with children. 
Again, the migration brought to the city many unattached men and women 
who could find no other place to live except in families. Thus it happens that 
in Negro families the lodger problem is probably more pressing than in any 
other group of the community. Not only do lodgers constitute a social 
problem for the family, but, having little or no interest in the appearance 
and condition of the property, they are in many instances careless and irrespon- 
sible and contribute to the rapid deterioration of the buildings. 

As previously explained, the term "lodgers," in this report, includes 
relations as well as other adults unrelated to the family. It was apparent in 
the study that there was a large number of relative-lodgers in Negro families. 
The recent migration from the South had a distinct bearing on this situation. 
Many Negroes came to Chicago at the solicitation of relatives and remained 
in their households until they could secure homes for themselves. The migra- 
tion further accounts for the accentuation of the lodger problem during the 
period immediately following it. The 274 family histories include 1,319 
persons, of whom 485, or 35 per cent, were lodgers, living in 62 per cent of the 
households. The greatest number of households with lodgers were those 
living in five-room dwellings. There were thirty-eight such households. 
Living in six- and seven-room dwellings were thirty-four families with lodgers. 
Families with only one lodger were most numerous. There were fifty -five 
such families as compared with thirty-nine having two lodgers, twenty-five 
with three lodgers, twenty-three with four lodgers, thirteen with six lodgers, 
eight with five lodgers, and seven with more than six lodgers. 

Naturally the lodger evil was found in its worst form in the congested 
parts of the South Side. In the district from Thirty-first to Thirty-ninth 
streets seventy-two of the ninety-nine families had lodgers. In twenty-two 
families there was but one, however, as against twelve with three and four, 
eleven with two, and six with five and six lodgers. Two families had ten each, 
and one had thirteen. This last case was that of a widow who rented nine 
sleeping-rooms in her ten-room house, in addition to catering at odd moments. 
It was a typical rooming-house as distinguished from a family taking lodgers. 
One family that had ten lodgers consisted of a man, his wife, and a son twenty- 
five years old; they had eight bedrooms, seven opening into a hall. The other 
family that had ten lodgers consisted of the parents and two children, a boy 


of eight and a girl of seven, and had a ten-room house. The lodgers were 
two men and three women, with five children. Five of the ten rooms were 
used as sleeping-rooms. 

In the district north of Thirty-first Street an increased number of lodgers 
appeared in only one family, that of a man and his wife, without children. 
They lived in a ten-room house, using eight of the rooms for sleeping purposes 
and accommodating seven male and five female lodgers. 

In the district from Thirty-ninth to Sixtieth Street was one instance of 
seven male lodgers in a seven-room house with the man who owned the prop- 
erty. Two of the lodgers were his brothers. There was no heat and no 
bathroom. The house had been reported to the health department. 

In the Lake Park district one, two, or three lodgers were the rule, only 
five of the twenty-eight families with lodgers in that district being outside of 
those three classes. Eight lodgers were found in an eight-room dwelling. 
The family consisted of man and wife, and the only female lodger was their 
niece. Five rooms were used for sleeping purposes. 

In the other district no instances of excessive overcrowding due to lodgers 
were found. 

Complaint has often been made of the numerical preponderance of lodgers 
over children among Chicago Negroes, and comment has been made on the 
economic significance. It has been suggested, for example, that economic 
pressure had lowered the birth-rate among Negroes and increased the infant- 
mortality rate. As indicated by the 274 family histories, the number of lodgers 
among the Negro population exceeds the number of children, that is, the number 
of boys less than twenty-one years and girls less than eighteen. The School of 
Civics and Philanthropy, in its housing studies, counted as children those less 
than twelve years of age. On this basis it found in its study of the Negroes 
of the South and West sides that there were less than half as many children 
as lodgers on the South Side, but a more normal situation in the West Side. 
Even extending the ages of children, as has been done in the present report, 
the situation does not appear in a much better light. 

The proportion of lodgers and of children in the districts covered by the 
Commission is shown in Table IX. 

By way of comparison similar figures from other housing studies of the 
Chicago School of Civics might be mentioned, the children in each instance 
being less than twelve years old. 

Among the Slovaks of the Twentieth Ward, 13 per cent were lodgers and 
32 per cent children; in South Chicago, 27.3 per cent lodgers and 25.7 per cent 
children; among the Greeks and Italians near Hull-House, 13 per cent lodgers 
and 30 per cent children; among the Lithuanians of the Fourth Ward, 28 per 
cent lodgers and 27 per cent children. 

As far as the South Side is concerned, the situation with regard to the 
balance between lodgers and children has become aggravated since the earliest 



School of Civics report was issued, whereas the situation on the West Side 
has improved somewhat. 

Where there were children and lodgers together, a considerable number of 
instances were found which suggest probable injury to health or morals, 
and sometimes both. Even where lodgers are relatives, impairment of health 
and morals is threatened in certain circumstances, especially if the over- 
crowding is flagrant. For example, a household on South Dearborn Street 
near Thirty-fourth Street consisted of a father, mother, a son of nineteen 
years, and a baby girl of four months, with three lodgers, two men and one 



Percentage of 

Percentage of 

South Side: 

Thirty-first to Thirty-ninth 

Twenty-second to Thirty-first 

Thirty-niTith to SiVfiefh .,.,,., 




West Side 


Lake Park 


North Side. ... I 




Ogden Park 


Total of 274 families 


22. 7 

woman — seven persons living in seven rooms and sleeping in all parts of the 
house. One of the lodgers was a sister-in-law, another a nephew by marriage, 
and the third, a stranger, had a bedroom to himself. In a ten-room house in 
East Thirty-second Street parents having a boy of eight years and a girl of 
seven years were found to have taken in ten lodgers, two of whom were men. 
In another instance five children, four of them boys of eight, five, four, and two 
years and a girl of eleven, lived with their parents and two lodgers in a six-room 

In Ogden Park, a district which shows a high percentage of children, 
lodgers sometimes are added to the family. In one house of five rooms, for 
example, there were found living twelve persons — father, mother, two sons, 
sixteen and seventeen years of age, four daughters, thirty-three, twenty-four, 
twenty-two, and thirteen years of age, and four lodgers — a daughter, her 
husband, and their two infants. There were only two bedrooms for the 
twelve persons. Another instance was that of a family of father, mother, 
four sons, nine, five, three, and two years, and two daughters, seven years and 
three weeks, with a sister of one of the parents for a lodger. The nine persons 
lived in five rooms. There were only two beds in the house, and one of the 
bedrooms was not in use. 

On the South Side near Thirty-first Street there was a case where a man 
lodger occupied one bedroom, the other being used by the parents and their 
eight-year-old daughter — four persons in a four-room flat. On South Park 


Avenue near Twenty-ninth Street two lodgers, a son-in-law and a nephew, 
occupied two of the six rooms, while the husband and wife, a son of twenty- 
three years, and a daughter of twenty-one years lived in the other four rooms, 
which included the kitchen and dining-room. A similar instance was found, 
on Indiana Avenue near Thirtieth Street, where two male lodgers lived with 
a family consisting of the parents, a son of twenty, and a daughter of eighteen, 
all in six rooms, two of which were not sleeping-rooms. On Lake Park Avenue 
near Fifty-sixth Street a family, including father, mother, and daughter of 
twenty, slept in the kitchen in order that three lodgers, one male and two female, 
might be accommodated in the five-room flat. In a five-room flat on Kenwood 
Avenue near Fifty-third Street the two male lodgers occupied both bedrooms, 
while the mother and her boy of nine and girl of seven years lived in the kitchen 
and dining-room. Seven persons were found living in a six-room house on 
East Fortieth Street; they were father, mother, a son of five years, a daughter 
of seven years, and an infant, with a male and a female lodger, friends of the 
parents. Virtually the whole house was used for sleeping purposes. 

These are examples of the arrangements that sometimes occur when 
children and lodgers are found in the same dwelling. The fact that in the 
main Chicago Negroes live in more rooms per dwelling than immigrants, 
whose standard of living has not yet risen, does not necessarily mean that the 
Negroes have a greater appreciation of a house with more rooms. The explana- 
tion in many cases is that the Negroes take whatever living quarters happen 
to be available, which often are large residences abandoned by well-to-do 
whites, and then adapt their mode of living to the circumstances. Lodgers 
are one of the sources of revenue that aid in paying the rent. Negro families 
often expressed a desire to live by themselves if they could find a dwelling of 
suitable size for reasonable rent. They sometimes complained of lodgers 
and declared that they would prefer not to take them at aU, especially women 
lodgers. The objection to married couples and unattached men was not so 

Smaller houses thus would seem to be a factor in the solution of the lodger 
problem. A Negro real estate dealer was asked if the Negro was as contented 
or as much disposed to live in a cottage as white people, or whether he wanted 
to live in spacious quarters where he could draw a revenue from roomers. 
The reply was that the Negro would rather live by himself. This is 
evidenced by the fact that many Negroes would rather live in an apartment 
and rent two or three rooms than take a large house and have it full of roomers. 

Lodgers are often found in the smaller dwellings occupied by Negroes. 
Rent is often the determining factor in the selection of the smaller dwelling. 
When it is so high that it forms too large a proportion of income, economic 
necessity often drives the Negro family to admit one or more lodgers at the 
expense of overcrowding and its attendant harmfulness. This was noted in 
certain districts where the dwellings as a rule were small. 


Rents and lodgers. — An effort was made to determine the economic necessity 
for lodgers as expressed by the relation of the wages of heads of families to 
the amounts of rent paid. It is assumed that m a normal family budget 
rent should not exceed one-fifth of the income of the head of the family. Wide 
variations from that proportion were revealed. 

Facts as to both rent and wages were difl&cult to secure, owing to the 
variable earnings of various members of the family, variable sums received 
from lodgers, and other factors. For example, seventeen occupants owned 
their houses. In seventy-eight other cases information obtained by the 
investigators was not adequate or could not, for various reasons, be used in 

The remaining 179 cases out of the 274 provided data from which the 
following facts are presented: In three instances the rent exceeded the income 
of the head of the family; in thirty-one instances the rent equaled one-half 
the income of the head of the family, and in an equal number it amounted 
to one-third. In one case the rent was equal to three-fourths of the income, 
and in twenty-three cases the rent equaled one-fourth. Thus eighty-nine 
instances were disclosed in which the rent was in excess of one-fifth of the 
income of the head of the family. In most of these cases, particularly the 
extreme ones, the income of the head of the family was greatly supplemented 
by money received from lodgers or from earnings of other members of the 

The remaining ninety families in which the rent amounted to one-fifth 
or less of the income of the head of the family were divided as follows: Twenty- 
four fell in the one-fifth column, twenty-seven in the one-sixth column, fourteen 
in the one-seventh column, eleven in the one-eighth column, while fourteen 
were in the "low" column. The last named included those ranging from 
one-ninth to one-twenty-third. 

On the South Side, in the district from Thirty-first to Thirty-ninth Street, 
rents exceeded the one-fifth proportion in one-half of the sixty-two families 
studied, two of them paying rent in excess of income, eight paying one-half of 
income for rent, fourteen paying one-third, and seven paying one-fourth. 
Of the remaining thirty-one families in that district, seven fell in the one-fifth 
column, twelve in the one-sixth column, six in the one-seventh column, four 
in the one-eighth column and two in the "low," being one-ninth and one- 

Rents were high also in the Lake Park district, where twenty-five families 
of a total of thirty-sk were paying in excess of the one-fifth proportion. Four- 
teen of these paid one-half of the income for rent, five paid one-fourth, four 
paid one-third, one paid three-quarters, and in one instance rent exceeded 
income. In only five instances was the normal one-fifth paid, two paid one- 
sixth, two paid one-seventh, while two paid one-ninth and one-eleventh 


In the district north of Thirty-first Street, eighteen out of a total of thirty- 
eight families paid in excess of the one-fifth proportion, four paid one-half, 
nine paid one-third, and five paid one-fourth. Six families paid the normal 
one-fifth, five paid one-sixth, two paid one-seventh, one one-eighth, and six less 
than that, running as low as one-twenty-third. 

The Ogden Park area was found to be a district of low rents. None of 
the eight families studied paid as much as the normal one-fifth. Two paid 
one-sixth, one paid one-seventh, three one-eighth, one one-ninth, and one 
one- twelfth. 

The other districts did not show much variation from the normal propor- 

Examination was made of all the factors in instances where the rent equaled 
one-half or more of the income of the head of the family or amounted to 
one-third. With regard to the former it was assumed, for the purpose of the 
study, that it compelled renting rooms to lodgers. With regard to the one- 
third column, lodgers were assumed to be an economic necessity when they 
offered the only source of income in addition to that of the head of the family. 
On these bases it was found that in forty-six families supplementary income 
afforded by lodgers was necessary, that in three instances they were the sole 
source of the income, while one instance was presented of a widow whose 
children partly supported her, but insufficiently for their common needs. 

While in most instances of high rents and low income on the part of the 
head of the family good reason appeared for taking lodgers, in not a few 
instances further analysis revealed other sources of income which might 
indicate that there was no economic necessity for lodgers. There was one 
instance on Forest Avenue, for example, where the relation of the rent to the 
father's income was one-third, but where his sons earned more than double 
his income. In another family on South State Street near Thirtieth Street, 
the father earned $125 a month and paid $50 a month rent, but additional 
income was derived from the wife, son, and daughter, in addition to that 
obtained from lodgers. There was likewise the case of a waiter living on 
Lake Park Avenue whose rent was S30 a month as against wages of $10 a 
week. In addition to the tips he doubtless received in his work, his wife 
earned $18 a week, and $6 a week was derived from lodgers. In one instance 
a man living near Fifty-sixth Street and Wabash Avenue paid rent equal to 
one-third of his wages, but had considerable income from investments. 

Such instances tend to explain why only forty-eight families were found 
in which lodgers seemed to be an economic necessity in aiding to pay rents, 
when eighty-nine cases were revealed in which the rent was in excess of one- 
fifth of the wages of the head of the family. The family histories also showed 
that various means besides lodgers supplemented the insufficient income of a 
family head. In some cases the wife or children worked, and not infrequently 
their incomes exceeded those of the father. 


Lodgers were often found in families where the income from that source 
did not appear to be needed. This was the case in a number of families with 
unusually high wages and abnormally low rents. High wages and low rents 
explain most of the cases shown where the rent ranges from one-ninth to 
one-twenty-third of the mcome of the head of the family. In the one-twenty- 
third case the couple lived in two rooms on South State Street for which they 
paid $6 a month. The man earned $35 a week in an iron foundry, while the 
wife added $18 a week to the common fund. Another instance was that of 
a man who paid $16 a month rent and earned $48 weekly at the Stock Yards. 
His wife and a relative added $23.60 a week to the family income. A man in 
Ogden Park whose income as a contractor was $48 a week paid $16 a month 
rent. A man living on the West Side earned $48 a week and paid $15 a month 
rent. His children added $43.50 a week to the family income. 

Even in circumstances such as these, lodgers were sometimes taken. 
In one case where the rent was one-tenth of the wages of the head of the family 
the man paid $15 a month rent for a five-room dwellmg out of his $36 weekly 
wages earned in a coke plant at Gary. His son and lodgers increased the 
monthly income by $28. There was a teamster earning $30 a week who 
paid $15 a month rent for a six-room dwelling in which nme persons lived. 
The proportion of rent to his wages was as one to eight. His wife, one of his 
children, and lodgers added to the income. As in numerous mstances where 
the income was high, a large amount was spent for food in this family. 

An instance was found of a man earning $9.50 to $10.50 a day. His wife 
was a caterer. There was a daughter of fifteen years. They took three 
roomers. There was no need for the woman to work, but she said she wanted 
the money. She was a good cook, having served in that capacity in the South, 
and she said she earned $15 when she went out for a week-end of catering. 
In this instance there seemed to be little need for lodgers. 

Another case was that of a man and his wife and two grown children 
living in a nine-room dwelling on Calumet Avenue and having nme lodgers. 
The man was earning $40 a week, and the lodgers paid $33.50 a week. The 
wife occasionally did day work, earning $3 .65 a day. The monthly expenditure 
for food was $100, clothing $^T,y and rent $60. 

Another instance was that of a widow with three children who lived on 
State Street near Thirty-seventh Street, in a three-room flat. Though the 
children's earnings amounted to $78 a week, the inevitable lodger was present, 
contributing $4 a week to the common fund. This little family spent $120 
a month for food. 

Large amounts spent for food were not uncommon in some families that 
took lodgers. A typical instance was that of the man and wife with three 
children and two lodgers who lived on Prairie Avenue. The man earned 
$25 a week, while $82 a month was derived from the lodgers. Food for the 
family alone cost $100 a month. 


A man on North Wells Street earned $57 a week for the support of his 
wife and three adopted children. They lived in an eleven-room house which 
also accommodated the man's sister and brother. One of the sons earned 
$75 a week, and the lodgers paid $45 a month. This family spent $180 a 
month for food. Another earned $22 a week in the Stock Yards. Besides 
his wife and child they had in their nine-room house on East Thirtieth 
Street six lodgers paying $20 a week. This family spent $100 a month for 
food and $34 for clothing. Another man and wife on Forest Avenue paid 
$25 a month rent and spent $88 a month for food and $43 for clothing. They 
derived $3.75 a week from their two lodgers. A similar case was that of a family 
which lived on East Thirty-second Street. The man earned $30 a week in 
a foundry. He and his wife have one child, and they had ten lodgers, who 
paid $72 a week. In this family $80 was spent for food each month and $50 
for clothing. 

The heaviest expenditure for food in any one family was $330 a month. 
This was explained by the fact that there were twenty table boarders. The 
husband earned $22.50 a week, and there were three lodgers who paid $13 a 
week. The boarders collectively paid $13 a day. Rent was $55 a month, 
and $25 a month was spent for clothing. 

Other reasons for the ready acceptance of lodgers in Negro dwellings 
were apparent, among them friendship and the desire to be obliging and to 
assist others in a new environment. Most Negroes would regard it as a breach 
of good faith to encourage friends and relatives to come to Chicago from the 
South and then fail to help them after their arrival. This accounts for the 
frequent designation of ''relatives" and "friends" among the lodgers. Some- 
times these lodgers seemed to be permanent, but often they were taken only 
until they could adjust themselves. 

During the period of greatest migration, 1915-20, hundreds of unattached 
men and women could be seen on the streets as late as one or two o'clock in 
the morning, seeking rooms shortly after their arrival in Chicago. One 
instance was reported of a family to whose house four men came at midnight 
looking for rooms. Lack of lodging-houses or of hotels where accommodations 
could be had at reasonable prices was partly responsible for this swarm of 
migrants seeking shelter in private homes. The meager provision of such 
places for the accommodation of unattached Negroes has been a factor in the 
lodger problem. 


How Negroes earn their living in Chicago, what occupational changes 
those from the South have undergone since arrival, how their present occupa- 
tions differ from those in their former homes — information on all these points 
was gained from the family histories. Almost without exception, the Negroes 
interviewed declared that their economic situation had improved in Chicago. 


In most instances they were able to earn more; some said they were obliged 
to work harder but felt well recompensed because of their improved economic 

From the occupations of persons included in the study it appears that 
there is a distinct departure from the domestic and personal service in which 
Negroes were commonly found a few years ago. Among the 274 families 
visited, the heads of 225 families were men. Of this number eighteen were 
idle at the time of the investigation, in the summer of 1920, nine were profes- 
sional men, nineteen were in business, twenty-two were in some skilled trade 
or work, no were doing unskilled work, and only forty-seven were engaged 
in personal service. The latter term includes such occupations as doorman 
in a hotel or club, bellboy, bootblack, cook, waiter, porter, elevator operator, 
and chauffeurs who lack training as mechanics. These are chiefly functions 
which bring employees in contact with the public or with white employers 
in a more or less personal capacity. 

Before coming to Chicago, forty-five of the 225 were farmers. Practically 
all of these entered the field of unskilled occupations here. Only sixty-four 
of the 225 had been doing unskilled work in their former home. Six more did 
skilled work in their former homes than were doing such work in Chicago; 
two more were in personal service; two less were in business; and one more was 
in a profession. 

Of these 225 family heads, 122 migrated to Chicago, chiefly from the South, 
durmg the period from 1916 to 1920 inclusive. Three periods in the industrial 
history of the family head were taken: (i) occupation in the former home; 
(2) occupation on first arrival in Chicago; and (3) adjustment to new conditions 
in Chicago and occupation at the time of investigation, during the spring and 
early summer of 1920. 

Many of these migrants had not yet made their adjustment to the new 
occupations at that time. However, certain tendencies were manifest. For 
example, in the former home thirty-one were farmers and forty-five were 
unskilled workers. In the period of adjustment seventy-seven were doing 
unskilled work. The unskilled occupations had apparently, in the shifting 
about, absorbed the farmers. The difficulty of continuing in skilled occupa- 
tions in the North was evidenced. In the South fourteen of the 122 men 
were engaged in skilled occupations of some sort; in the period of adjustment 
there were fifteen; but at the time of the investigation there were but twelve. 
In the South nineteen of the 122 were in personal-service occupations; 
during the transition period, eighteen; and at the time of the investigation, 
sixteen. In the South seven were in business; during the period of transition, 
three; and at the time of the investigation, five. In the South four were in 
practice as professional men; during the period of transition only three; 
while at the time of the investigation there were five, one just beginning to 


As to whether any previous occupational training was used or abandoned 
after coming to the North, it appeared that of the 225 only 91 utilized such 
training. In 134 cases previous training was not used, but these included 
many who were farmers in the South. 

Of forty-nine who had been engaged in personal-service occupations before 
coming to Chicago, only twenty still continued in such work. Six were unem- 
ployed at the time of the investigation, nineteen were in unskilled work, one 
was doing skilled work, and three were in business. 

Forty-nine women were heads of families as revealed by the 274 family 
histories. This does not include all the Negro women shown by the histories 
to be engaged in gainful occupations in Chicago. Often daughters were 
working. There were thirty instances in which man and wife both worked 
outside of the home. Before coming to Chicago 129 wives were employed, 
while in Chicago sixty-seven wives were gainfully employed, including the 
thirty who were working in addition to their husbands. During the period 
of transition, it appears, they helped out, since the records show that 132 
were then at work. But the tendency plainly is to abandon the practice as 
soon as the family becomes settled in the new environment. 

Of seventeen women who had worked as house servants in their former 
homes, seven were found in factories, three in offices, two in stores, and five 
in unskilled manual labor. 

Some of the transitions in occupation are especially interesting. One 
oil-field worker in the South had become a shoemaker. A farmer had become 
a postal clerk. A former superintendent of a label factory attended high school 
during the adjustment period and became an undertaker. One who was a 
schoolboy in the South worked in a hotel on coming to Chicago but became a 
grocer. A barber in Kansas City became first a painter in Chicago, then a 
janitor. A bottler from Memphis, Tennessee, went to work in the Stock 
Yards but became a canvasser. A farmer from Alabama worked first in the 
Yards and later in woolen mills. 

One man was a porter in a store in Mississippi. In Chicago he became a 
chauffeur. A farmer from Louisiana on arriving worked as a butcher and then 
secured employment in a tannery. A porter in a wholesale grocery in Memphis, 
Tennessee, who worked first in Chicago as a lard maker in a packing-house, 
later became a building laborer. A preacher from Tennessee worked at 
Swift's packing-house until he could become established in a church. 

A Mississippi plumber who served as a butter maker for a time after 
reaching Chicago became a contractor within three years. A hotel porter 
from Alabama came to Chicago in 191 8 and went to work in^a steel foundry 
and later in a soap factory. A farmer who worked on shares in Georgia tried 
work in the Stock Yards in Chicago, but changed to a paint shop. An Alabama 
man who worked in a sawmill there found a job in a steel foundry in Chicago, 
and later went to the Stock Yards. A man who worked in an ice plant 


in Texas became a railroad porter after coming to Chicago and then found a 
job as a butcher at the Stock Yards. 

A man who began life as a bootblack in Atlanta came to Chicago in 1893 
and sold newspapers until he could enter business for himself. For many years 
he has been a jeweler. In the South his wife was a musician by profession. 
To aid her husband in his struggle she worked in a box factory for a time after 
arriving in Chicago. 

Clergymen sometimes abandon their profession for more remunerative 
employment. One of these came to Chicago from Boston in 1904. For a time 
he worked as a i&reman and later in a packing-house. One who served as a 
waiter on first coming to Chicago became an insurance agent, and another, 
who was a reporter on a Negro newspaper on arrival in Chicago, became the 
manager of a manufacturing company. 

Few migrants continued in Chicago the employment in which they worked 
in the South. 

The family histories show that the Stock Yards industry absorbed many 
of the migrants, and a large number went to work in the steel mills and iron 
foundries, as well as in lighter manufactures. 

Many Negro women have become hairdressers and manicurists after a 
course in a school of "beauty culture" which also teaches the use of cosmetics. 
Considerable skill is often required in this work, and the earnings often supple- 
ment very substantially the husband's income and may be sufficient to make 
an individual seK-sustaining in case of need. Hairdressing is most frequently 
done in the homes. 

An occasional teacher, cateress, or seamstress was found among the Negro 
women. Some of them remained in personal-service occupations, but a decided 
tendency was noticeable toward ofi&ce and factory employment. 

In summary it is scarcely necessary to remark that wages in the North 
far exceed those in the South. The difference in some instances is so great 
that many foolish expenditures are indulged in before the relatively higher 
cost of living is appreciated, or other conditions are properly understood. 
High wages, supplemented by income from other sources, often proved a 
temptation to unnecessarily heavy expenditures for material comforts, such 
as food and clothing. With relation to food it did not appear that Negroes 
were deUberately taken advantage of in their buying, but that they frequently 
bought articles without considering prices that had been refused by others 
because they were deemed excessive. 

Insurance of one kind or another was often carried in the families studied. 
In spite of high living costs, a considerable number of families were found to 
have bank accounts. Liberty bonds. War Savings stamps, and good interest- 
paying investments. 

The testimony of Negroes who at some time had lived in the South was 
mainly that they were obliged to work harder for what they got North. They 


also declared that they were unable to save as much as they hoped or expected, 
because of high prices. But in the great majority of cases satisfaction was 
expressed over the improvement in their economic situation. WhUe their 
movements in search of better housing in Chicago were extremely frequent, 
they still felt that they were better housed than in their former homes, where 
bathtubs, steam heat, and electric lighting were almost unknown. Being 
accustomed to a certain measure of dilapidation in their home surroundings 
in the South, the Negro is not necessarily dismayed by the extent of dilapidation in 
Chicago's Negro housing, though usually it is not long before he begins to think 
of more substantial dwellings in better surroundings than those he first obtains. 

Also in Chicago he finds available and accessible to his home many churches, 
some with large memberships and adequately housed; the best schools he 
has ever known; fine hospitals and dispensaries at his command; some play- 
grounds, bathing-beaches, parks, and similar facilities for his recreation and 
that of his children; settlement houses; libraries; and many other civic and 
recreational societies that make a strong appeal to his interest and promote 
his ambition for physical and mental development. He finds many motion- 
picture theaters and other amusements for his leisure hours. 

Where the habit has not already been estabhshed, he is learning to make 
liberal use of all these facilities through the guidance and direction of Negro 
newspapers and organizations working especially for the improvement of the 
Negro group. There are indications of improvement in moral standards, 
health, and civic consciousness through these contacts and the use of these 
up-building social agencies. 

The opinions of migrants and their feeling toward the community were 
solicited. It appeared that above all they prized the social and political 
freedom of the North. Satisfaction was expressed over the escape from 
"Jim Crow" treatment in the South. They valued the independence possible 
in the North, and sometimes spoke of having come North "out of bondage." 
They recalled frequently the "shameful treatment received by the Negroes 
from the white people in the South," the "intimidation and discrimination," 
and they were surprised and sometimes amazed at the fact that they could go 
and come at will in Chicago, that they could ride in the front of a street car 
and sit in any seat. Satisfaction was also expressed over the fact that they 
could get a job at good wages and did not have to buy groceries at plantation 
stores where they felt they had been exploited. 

Thus, whUe they may have to work harder and may find it difficult for a 
long time to adjust themselves to the environment, few indicated any intention 
of returning to the South. In some instances, where adjustments have not 
been made, some discouragement was evidenced, and they sometimes expressed 
the feeling that they were no better off in Chicago than in their former homes. 
The prevailing sentiment, however, was in favor of remaining in spite of some 
greater difi&culties. 


Often Negroes from the South said they missed the care-free social greetings 
and relationships that prevail in the rural South. They thought that people 
in the North were "colder," that they did not show sufficient hospitahty. 

Asked what conditions they would change if they could have their way, 
the most frequently expressed desire was for more and better housing. 
Improvement of social, moral, or political conditions followed. Some empha- 
sized the necessity of improving the management of the migrants from the 
South, whose new-found freedom had led them to become offensive in their 
conduct. Interviews with migrants, however, indicated that instruction was 
being received without offense from many social agencies on how to act, 
dress, and speak in such a manner as not to create unfavorable impressions. 

There were some complaints of political exploitation and of being obliged 
to live in proximity to gambling and vice that were encouraged by political 
bosses in their neighborhoods. 

The inquiry showed that membership in clubs, lodges, and kindred organiza- 
tions was almost as universal as church affiliation. There were only a few 
families in which no member had any association with a fraternity or club. 


The general statistical treatment of these 274 Negro families takes away 
many of their human qualities. For this reason a selection has been made of 
various types of Negro families in order that a rounded picture of the whole 
unit may be given. The family stories that follow include typical migrant 
Negroes from the South — common laborers, skilled laborers, salaried, business, 
and professional men. They illustrate the commonplace experiences of 
Negroes in adjusting themselves to the requirements of life in Chicago. 


Mr. J — , forty-nine years old, his wife, thirty-eight years, and their daughter 
twenty-one years, were born in Henry County, Georgia. The husband never went 
to school, but reads a little. The wife finished the seventh grade and the daughter 
the fifth grade in the rural school near their home. 

They worked on a farm for shares, the man earning one dollar and the women 
from fifty to seventy-five cents a day for ten hours' work. Their home was a four- 
room cottage with a garden, and rented for five dollars a month. They owned pigs, 
poultry, and a cow, which with their household furniture, were worth about $800. 
The food that they did not raise and their clothmg had to be bought from the com- 
missary at any price the owner cared to charge. 

They were members of the Missionary Baptist Church and the wife belonged to 
the missionary society of the church and the Household of Ruth, a secret order. Their 
sole recreation was attenduig church, except for the occasional hunting expeditions 
made by the husband. 

Motives for coming to Chicago. — Reading in the Atlanta Journal, a Negro news- 
paper, of the wonderful industrial opportunities offered Negroes, the husband came 
to Chicago in February, 191 7. Finding conditions satisfactory, he had his wife sell 


the stock and household goods and join him here in April of the same year. He 
secured work at the Stock Yards, working eight hours at $3 a day. Later, he was 
employed by a casting company, working ten hours a day and earning $30 a week. 
This is his present employment and is about forty minutes' ride from his home. 
Both jobs were secured by his own efforts. 

The family stayed in a rooming-house on East Thirtieth Street. This place 
catered to such an undesirable element that the wife remained in her room with their 
daughter all day. She thought the city too was cold, dirty, and noisy to live in. 
Having nothing to do and not knowing anyone, she was so lonely that she cried daily 
and begged her husband to put her in three rooms of their own or go back home. 
Because of the high cost of living, they were compelled to wait some time before they 
had saved enough to begin housekeeping. 

Housing experience. — Their first home was on South Park Avenue. They bought 
about $500 worth of furniture, on which they are still paying. The wife then worked 
for a time at the Pullman Yards, cleaning cars at $1.50 a day for ten hours' work. 
Their house leaked and was damp and cold, so the family moved to another house on 
South Park Avenue, where they now live. The house is an old, three-story brick, 
containing three flats. This family occupies the first flat, which has six rooms and 
bath. Stoves are used for heating, and gas for light and cooking. The house is 
warm, but dark and poorly ventilated. Lights are used in two of the rooms during 
the day. The rooms open one into the other, and the interior, as well as the exterior, 
needs cleaning. There are a living-room, dining-room, and three bedrooms. The 
living-room is neatly and plainly furnished. 

The daughter has married a man twenty-three years old, who migrated first to 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, then to Chicago. He works at the Stock Yards. They 
occupy a room and use the other part of the house, paying half the rent and boarding 
themselves. A nephew, who was a glazier in Georgia, but who has been unable to 
secure work here, also boards with Mr. and Mrs. J — , paying $8 a week. He is now 
unemployed, but has been doing foundry work. Mrs. J — occasionally does laundry 
work at $4 a day. 

How they live. — The cost of living includes rent $25; gas $5.40 a month; coal 
$18 a year; insurance $9.60 a month; clothing $500 a year; transportation $3.12 a 
month; church and club dues $3 a month; hairdresser $1.50 a month. Little is spent 
for recreation and the care of the health. The family carries insurance to the amount 
of $1,700, of which $1,200 is on the husband. 

The meals are prepared by the wife, who also does the cleaning. Greens, potatoes, 
and cabbage are the chief articles of diet. Milk, eggs, cereals, and meat are also 
used. Meat is eaten about four times a week. Hot bread is made daily, and the 
dinners are usually boiled. 

Relation to the community. — The whole family belongs to the Salem Baptist Church 
and attends twice a week. The wife is a member of the Pastor's Aid and the Willing 
Workers Club, also the Elk's Lodge. The husband is a member of the Knights of 
Pythias. He goes to the parks, bathing-beaches, and baseball games for amusement. 
The family spends much of its time in church and helped to establish the " Come and 
See" Baptist Mission at East Thirty-first Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. They 
have gone to a show only once or twice since they came to the city. During the 
summer they spend Sunday afternoons at the East Twenty-ninth Street Beach. 


Heavier clothes were necessary because of the change of climate, and more fresh 
meat is used because of the lack of garden space and the high cost of green vegetables. 

The wife thinks that northern Negroes have better manners, but are not as friendly 
as the colored people in the South. She says people do not visit each other, and one 
is never invited to dine at a friend's house. She thinks they cannot afford it with 
food so high. She thinks people were better in the South than they are here and 
says they had to be good there for they had nothing else to do but go to church. 

She feels a greater freedom here because of the right to vote, the better treatment 
accorded by white people, the lack of "Jim Crow" laws. She likes the North because 
of the protection afforded by the law and the better working conditions. "You don't 
have an overseer always standing over you," she remarked. 

Life here is harder, however, because one has to work all the time. " In the South 
you could rest occasionally, but here, where food is so high and one must pay cash, 
it is hard to come out even." The climate is colder, making it necessary to buy more 
clothes and coal. Rent also is very much higher here. They had to sell their two 
$50 Liberty bonds. 

Economic sufficiency. — With all this, Mrs. J — gets more pleasure from her income 
because the necessities of life here were luxuries in Georgia, and though such things 
are dear here there is money to pay for them. Houses are more modern, but not 
good enough for the rent paid. They had to pay $2 more than the white family that 
moved out when they moved in. 

Sentiments on the migration. — Mrs. J — • says "some colored people have come up 
here and forgotten to stay close to God," hence they have "gone to destruction." She 
hopes that an equal chance in industry will be given to all; that more houses will be 
provided for the people and rent will be charged for the worth of the house; and the 
cost of living generally will be reduced. She does not expect to return to Georgia 
and is advising friends to come to Chicago. 


In his home town in Kentucky, Mr. M — was a preacher with a small charge. 
Now, at the age of forty-nine, in Chicago, he works in a factory and is paid $130 a 
month. He has an adopted son, twenty-three years of age, who is an automobile 
mechanic in business for himself, drawing an income of $300 a month. 

Mr. M — might still be a preacher on small salary but for the intervention of his 
wife. He came to Chicago about 1900. His wife came from Nashville, Tennessee, 
in 1902, and they were married in 1904. Mrs. M — felt that she was too independent 
to "live off the people" and persuaded her husband to give up the ministry. He 
got a job as foreman at a packing-house, where he earned $25 a week for a ten-hour 
day. Next he worked for the Chicago Telephone Company, and finally secured the 
position with a box-manufacturing company which he now holds. 

Family life. — The M — s have adopted three children, having had none of their 
own — the adopted son already mentioned, an adopted daughter now twenty years of 
age, and another foster son of thirteen. The latter is in a North Side school. The 
girl is in a normal school in Alabama. Both Mr. and Mrs. M — • completed high 
school. All speak good English. 

Wife and husband have separate banking accounts. Living expenses for such a 
large family are, of course, heavy. For example, the bills for food aggregate from 


$42 to $45 a week, and more than $200 a year is paid in insurance premiums. Fre- 
quently a woman is hired to come in and help with the housework. Food in good 
variety is used. Illness prevented adding to the bank accounts during the year of 
1920. An operation performed on Mrs. M — • cost $650 and the iUness of Mr. M — 
and the daughter consumed between $900 and $1,000. 

Housing experience. — The M — -s' first home in Chicago was a cottage in the 
"Black Belt." They wanted a large house and found one on South State Street. 
The neighborhood, however, was displeasing to them, and they moved to the North 
Side to be near a brother's children. The house was too small, and they moved again 
to another North Side address. Again the neighborhood proved distasteful, so 
they bought the three-story dwelling on the North Side where they now Hve. It is 
in good sanitary condition and is supplied with gas. As lodgers they have the wife's 
sister and brother, who are actually members of the family. 

Community participation . — They belong to the Baptist church. Affiliations of a 
secular nature include the Masons, the Household of Ruth, the Court of Calanthe, 
the Eastern Star, the Heroines of Jericho, the North Side Men's Progressive Club, 
the Twentieth Century and Golden Leaf clubs, and the Young Matrons and Volun- 
teer Workers. Mrs. M — is president of a settlement club and a member of the Urban 
League. After coming to Chicago three years passed before she mingled much with 
people. She had always done community work in her southern home and feels that 
her reluctance here was due to the fact that she did not know what the northern people 
were like. She found them friendly enough when at last she did associate with them. 

Sentiments on community problems. — They came to Chicago because they had 
visited here and liked it well enough to come back and settle. Conditions are not all 
that they would like. They would like to see Negroes allowed to live anywhere they 
choose without hindrance, they would suppress moving pictures that reveal murder, 
drinking, and similar acts that lead young people to commit crimes. They would also 
like to see newspapers abandon their habit of printing articles that are derogatory to 
the Negro, thus creating prejudice, and of printing items unfit for children. Also 
they would like to see better homes for Negroes. 

For the Negroes, they feel, life in the North is considerably easier than in the 
South, since they can always get plenty of work and do not have to work so hard as 
in the South. The mixed schools in the North are especially appreciated because no 
discrimination can creep in. The general lack of segregation on street cars, in parks, 
and in similar public places also pleases them. Still they see difficulties for southern 
Negroes who come North to live and are easily led astray. Southern Negroes are 
not accustomed to the new kinds of work and are inclined to slight it. This is, of 
course, unsatisfactory to their employers and accounts in some measure for the fre- 
quency with which they change jobs. This may also account for the fact that white 
people are averse to paying migrants well. 


Mr. L — was graduated from the Carbondale (111.) high school and the Southern 
Illinois State Normal School, while Mrs. L — was graduated from Hyde Park High 
School and the Chicago Normal School. The latter is a music teacher. Before com- 
ing to Chicago, Mr. L — was a school principal in Mounds, Illinois, and Mrs. L — 
also was a teacher. They are northern people, the husband having been born in 


East St. Louis and the wife in Chicago. They have a daughter, three years of age, 
and have living with them a niece and nephew, six and five years old, as well as two 
adult women relatives. 

Economic sufficiency. — As a railway mail clerk, Mr. L — earns $125 a month. He 
owns a house and lot in Carbondale and carries insurance on his life and property. 
They spend $37.50 a month for rent, about $10 for miscellaneous items, $15 a week for 
food, $4 a month for gas, $1 for barber's services, and always $10 a month is added to 
the family's bank account. 

Housing and neighborhood expenses. — In April, 1919, a flat building south of Sixty- 
third Street, previously occupied by white people, was opened to Negroes. The 
L — family were the first of the Negroes to move in. A few white families wished to 
remain and lived in the same building with the Negroes. Mr. L — says : " We objected, 
as they were not the kind of people we wanted to live with. My sister-in-law acted 
as agent of the building, and the condition of some of the flats was terrible. The 
owner was arrogant when the Negroes first came in, but he soon found that we would 
not be pleased with just anything. He told us he saw that we were particular and 
wanted things nice, and, said he, 'Seeing that you are that way, I'll do the best I 
can for you, as I beUeve you will take care of the flat.' The Negroes insisted on the 
laundry being cleaned and it is now being used." 

The L — family has had three stoves since moving in. After thoroughly renovat- 
ing the building and making many of the repairs themselves, the sanitary conditions 
are good, and the owner makes no further objection to maintaining the good order of 

The white people of the neighborhood objected to having the building occupied 
by Negroes. White boys of the neighborhood stoned the building, and its tenants 
were obhged to call upon the police for protection. This antagonism now seems to 
have disappeared. The white and Negro children play together amicably. 

Community participation. — Mrs. L — attends the First Presbyterian Church 
regularly and Mr. L — is a member and secretary of the board of trustees of the 
A.M.E. Mission. He is a Mason and a member of the Woodlawn Community 
Organization, which has the betterment of the neighborhood as its aim. He plays 
tennis for recreation and goes to concerts and the movies for entertainment. The 
children in the family have made use of public playgrounds and libraries. Bathing- 
beaches have been sought occasionally, and contacts have been made with the 
St. Lawrence Mission, a neighborhood institution. 

Opinions on race relations. — Mr. L— thinks that agitation is of no assistance to 
the problem and draws attention to the fact that lack of agitation on the part of 
newspapers averted a riot in connection with one recent racial disturbance. "Hous- 
ing is the greatest difficulty confronted by the migrant from the South." It is his 
opinion, further, that the Negroes are not understood, that the white people fear them 
until they become really acquainted with the Negroes. "Contact," he says, "is the 
only thing that will help to make conditions better. It is just a question of under- 
standing each other." 


Mr. A — was born in Chicago and his wife in Helena, Arkansas. He was edu- 
cated in the Chicago pubUc schools, and his wife attended Fisk University, Nashville, 
Tennessee, and afterward the Chicago Musical College. 


Mr. A — is light in complexion and is frequently mistaken for a white man. 
Several years ago, without announcing his race, he obtained work in a label factory 
and remained for some time until it was discovered that he was not a white man, and 
therefore the only Negro in the estabUshment. The officials, being the first to learn 
his racial identity, decided to keep him as long as no objection came from the other 
white employees. In a few years he became superintendent of the factory, which 
position he held for eight years. He was treated as an equal by members of the firm, 
who visited him at his home and invited him to their club. He was also president of 
the company's outing club. 

A short time ago he decided to enter business for himself, and both he and his 
wife took courses in an embahning school. He now has a business with stock and 
fixtures valued at $10,000. 

Economic sufficiency .—Ri?, business income affords a comfortable livelihood and 
a surplus for investment. He has bought one house and built another. These 
two are valued at $8,000 and yield $90 monthly. He also owns stock in the Pennsyl- 
vania Railroad and a fire insurance company, has $300 invested in Liberty bonds 
and owns a $1,000 automobUe. 

Community participation. — Mr. and Mrs. A — attend Congregational church 
services every Sunday and get much pleasure from concerts, lectures, and shows in 
the "Loop." Their principal recreation is motoring. Mr. A— is president of an 
association of business men and of a charity organization. He is a member of several 
fraternal organizations, contributes to Provident Hospital, United Charities, and the 
Urban League. His wife is an active committee member of a charity organization. 

Opinions on local race problems. — Mr. A — thinks there would be no housing prob- 
lem if prejudice were not so marked. He mentioned a subdivision east of Stony 
Island Avenue where it is specifically stated that Negroes are not desired. Homes 
there are being sold for prices within the reach of Negroes, and he feels that at least 
500 Negroes M'ould be glad to pay cash for such homes anywhere in Chicago if they 
were given the opportunity. He feels that proper protection should be given Negroes 
against bombers. 


Mr. B — is seventy-two years old and his wife sixty-four. They came to Chicago 
during the migration. They had difficulty in finding work suited to their advanced 
age and in accustoming themselves to the simplest changes in environment. Neither 
of them can read or write. 

Home life in the South.— In Alabama they owned an eight-acre farm and a four- 
room house and raised hogs, chickens, and cows. They both had worked twelve 
hours a day for years and by denying themselves even a comfortable home had 
saved $2,000, They were members of a church, although they could not actively 
participate in church or other affairs of their rural community. When the migration 
fever struck them they sold their property, drew out their $2,000, and foUowed the 

Home life in Chicago. — They first secured rooms and began the search for work, 
Mr. B — finally secured a job in a livery stable at $18 a week, but the work was uncer- 
tain and the wages insufficient. Mrs. B — went to work cleaning taxicabs. Illness 
and frequent lapses in work depleted their savings. They rented an eight-room house 
and took in lodgers, hoping to insure a steady income. They have nine lodgers in 


these eight rooms, in addition to themselves. There is no furnace heat ; the bathroom 
is out of repair, the halls dark and dirty, and they are using their old furniture brought 
from the South. Three of the women lodgers came from the same Alabama community. 
The habits and customs of this household are unchanged. They go out seldom, and 
all of the women smoke pipes and use snuff. 

Of the original $2,000 which Mr. B— brought with him, he has $250 left. 

They make no use of civic and social agencies and do not go to church because 
they think Chicago Negroes are unsociable. They prize the fact, however, that 
work is plentiful for the lodgers, and they have no intention of returning South. 


]\Ir. D — was a migrant and a member of a party of over a hundred Negroes who 
left Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in the autumn of 1916. 

He was a barber at home and earned an average of $25 a week. Mrs. D — ■ was 
a good housewife. They owned a house and lot valued at $1,000 and furniture valued 
at $500. They have two children. 

Motive for coming to Chicago. — Mr. D — had always read the Chicago Defender, 
and usually got in a supply of these papers to sell to his customers and to supply 
topics for barber-shop discussion. His daughter, then a student at Straight CoUege in 
New Orleans, was to be graduated that year, and he went to New Orleans to spend a 
week. While there he worked in a barber shop. He found that the migration was 
being much discussed. One day a man came into the shop and said he was a repre- 
sentative of a northern industry that was anxious to get Negroes to come North 
and work for it. He argued that the North had freed the Negroes, but had left them 
in the South where they had not received good treatment, so that at this late date the 
North was trying to right an old wrong and was now offering to Negroes a chance 
to work. On the other hand the Negroes were indebted to the North for their freedom. 

When Mr. D — returned home he sold his barber shop and left for the North 
with his wife and children. 

Life in Chicago. — Opening a place of business in Chicago, he called it the Hatties- 
burg Barber Shop. It is patronized largely by Hattiesburg people who came up in 
his party. His earnings are larger here, but at first his wife was forced to work in 
the Stock Yards at $10 a week to help meet the family budget. Occasionally now 
she works as a hairdresser. They pay $46.50 a month for rent. Their clothing bill 
amounts to $650 a year. Last year they spent $200 for medicine and an average of 
$18 a week for food. Their insurance premiums total $6 a month. 

Community participation. — In the South the entire family was active in church 
affairs. In Chicago they have continued their church connections, and Mr. D — 
is one of the officials at the Olivet Baptist Church. They go to church four times a 

Adjustments to Chicago. — They were quick to begin adjustment to their new sur- 
roundings, profiting by the advice and instructions of their present pastor. At the 
end of sbc months they felt themselves quite at home. They feel the need for 
using more careful EngHsh and are more formal in their greetings and relations with 
persons whom they meet. They enjoy the "freedom of speech and action" allowed 
in Chicago, the privilege of voting, the freedom from segregation, and the absence of 
Jim Crow laws. They think Chicago is fair to Negroes in so far as laws are con- 


cerned, but believe there should be better enforcement of the laws. They find life 
easier here, although there is more work to be done. They feel a great satisfaction in 
the more modern homes and other comforts and pleasures they are able to obtain. 
Each month they add a small amount to their bank account. They suggest that 
Negroes who have became adjusted to Chicago should take pains in a kindly spirit to 
inform newcomers concerning the proper deportment. They believe that if advice is 
offered in the right manner it wiU always be gladly received. They do not intend to 
return South. 


A son-in-law of the B — family, also from Mississippi, is employed at the Stock 
Yards. His impressions throw light on the adjustment of migrants and on their 
views. He said: 

"A friend met me when I first came to Chicago and took me to the Stock Yards 
and got me a job. I went to the front of the street car the first time I entered one 
here because my friend told me to; I would not sit beside a white person at first, but 
I finally got courage to do so. 

"At Swift's the whites were friendly. There I was in the dry-salt department at 
22I cents an hour. The foreman, a northerner, had been there thirty-five years. 
He was fair to all. I worked with Americans, Poles, and Irish. But the work was 
very hard, and I had to leave. I carried my lunch with me. Negroes and whites 
there eat together when they wish. I am now working at Wilson's. The Irish and 
Poles are a mean class. They try to get the Negroes to join the union. When the 
Negroes went to work Friday after the riot, most of the Irish and Poles quit and 
didn't come back to work untU Monday. They came back jawing because the 
Negroes didn't join the union. White members of the union got paid when their 
houses had been burned — $50 if they had famiHes and $25 if they were single. 
Colored members of the vmion got nothing when their houses had been burned. 
That's why I won't join. You pay money and get nothing. The whites worked 
during the riot ; we had to lose that time. I lost two weeks. It seemed strange to me. 
It looked unfair. They are still mean and 'dig ditches' for us. They go to the 
foreman and knock us, just trying to get us out of jobs. The foreman so far hasn't 
paid any attention to it. I am working in the fresh-pork department, handling 

"The Negroes stick together and tend to their business. Some of the Americans 
and Polish are very friendly. Everybody does his own work. We use the same 
showers and locker-rooms. They don't want us to work because we are not in the 
union. One asked me yesterday to join. The Poles said non-union men would not 
get a raise, but we got it." 

Opinions on race relations. — "When I first came I thought the city was wide open — 
I mean friendly and free. It seems that there is more discrimination and unfriendly 
feeling than I thought. I notice it at work and in pubhc places. Wages are not 
increasing like the high cost of living. As soon as one gets a raise, the cost of living 
goes up [May, 1920]. 

"The whites act just as disorderly on cars as the Negroes. Monday evening 
two white laborers sitting beside a white woman cursed so much that I had to look 
around. Nothing is ever said about such incidents. 


"Rent goes up whenever people think of it. We have to pay $8 more since 
April. Things are getting worse for us and we need to think about it. Still it is 
better here than in the South." 


Mr. S— was born in Baltimore in 185 1. At the time of the gold rush to Cali- 
fornia, his father took his family and started out to seek his fortune. They had got 
as far as Chicago when his father was robbed and the journey ended. Mr. S — has 
Hved here since. He has seen many changes during his sixty-three years' residence in 
Chicago. When he came here the city limits were Twelfth Street on the South and 
Chicago Avenue on the North, and there were no street cars. The Negro population 
was 175. His parents took him on Sunday to the Railway Chapel Sunday School, 
started in 1857 in two passenger cars by a Presbyterian minister. Father Kent. 
The first building occupied by this congregation was on the site where the Board of 
Trade now stands, 141 West Jackson Boulevard. This was destroyed in the fire of 
1871. The second church was at the corner of State and Thirteenth streets, where 
the Fair warehouse now stands. The next site of the church was that of the Institu- 
tional Church at Thirty-eighth and Dearborn streets. 

Early housing experience.— ?xq]\x^cc, Mr. S— says, was unknown in the early 
days. He has lived south of Thirty-first Street for thirty-five years. They were the 
first Negro family to enter the block in which they now live. He built his home 
there and has been living there twenty years. 


Mr. G — was born in La Grange, Texas, the son of a minister. As a boy he worked 
on his father's farm, went to school, and progressed as far as the eighth grade. He 
was a good baseball player. He played first in Forth Worth, Texas, then in New York 
and Philadelphia, and finally came to Chicago in 1907. The highest amount he had 
been able to earn was $9 a week. His first job in Chicago netted him about $1,000 
a year. In 1910 he had acquired ownership of the team, and now, at the age of 
forty, it nets him $15,000 a year. His team has traveled extensively, having covered 
the principal cities in the United States at least twenty-five times. 

Home life.— Mrs. G— was born in Sherman, Texas. She completed the first- 
year high school at her home. She is a modest woman and a good housekeeper. 
They have two children, a son of nine and a daughter of three. Mr. G— has moved 
four times in Chicago, seeking desirable Uving quarters for his family. He owns a 
three-story brick building containing nine rooms, the house in which he now lives. 
In addition he owns $7,000 worth of Liberty bonds and values his baseball team and 
other personal property at about $35,000. 

Community participation.— 'Eoth. Mr. and Mrs. G — were church members in the 
South. This membership is continued in Chicago. Mrs. G — belongs to an A.M.E. 
church and is interested in and helps support Provident Hospital and PhyUis Wheatley 
Home for Girls, while Mr. G— is a member of several fraternal orders. City Federa- 
tion of Clubs, and the Appomattox Club. Their recreation is baseball and dancing, 
and they find entertainment in attending theaters and orchestra concerts principally 
in the "Loop." Mr. G — is very much interested now in a playground which is 
being established near his home and a tennis and croquet club for young people in the 
same vicinity. 



Before coming to Chicago in 1886 Mrs. L — had lived in Washington and Detroit. 
Mr. L — was successively a railroad porter, a night watchman, and a janitor. There 
are four children, three daughters and a son. Two of the daughters are married and 
have families. One is a dressmaker, another a stenographer, and another an accom- 
pHshed musician. The son is a typist. Several years ago Mr. L — ■ purchased a lot 
near Forty-seventh Street on Wells Street on which he built his home. In this 
neighborhood the family was reared. Mr. L — died several years ago. 

Riot experience. — Although the L — family has been Uving at Forty-seventh 
and Wells streets for over thirty years, and relations between the family and the 
white neighbors in the block were cordial, gangs of hoodlums from other districts 
practically destroyed their property. The house was attacked, some of the furniture 
was stolen, and some was destroyed. The heavy pieces of furniture were broken up 
and burned in the street. The building was so badly damaged that they were forced 
to move into a boarding-house for a time. 

Community participation. — The L — family lived in a section of the city in which 
there were few Negroes, but maintained an active relationship with organizations of 
the Negro community. They are members of the A.M.E. Church and Sunday 
school and of two fraternal organizations. Mrs. L — is a member of the Linen Club 
of the Provident Hospital and is actively interested in the Old Folks Home. Miss L — , 
one of the daughters, is well known in the community as a musician and composer. 


Dr. W — and family came to Chicago in 1910. He had lived in Mexico City 
until the revolution made living there hazardous. He was in good circumstances, 
maintaining a comfortable household with servants. Since he has been in Chicago 
he has had considerable difficulty in finding a home in a neighborhood fit for rearing 
his children. He finally purchased a home on Grand Boulevard which is valued at 
more than $25,000. It is a three-story building with brown-stone front, ten rooms and 
two baths, and many works of art installed by the artist, Holslag, who formerly owned 
the house, and who himself painted some of the decorations. Dr. W — ■ has spent 
several thousand doUars on the furnishings. 

Home life. — Besides the doctor and his family there are two other relatives. The 
physician's income is adequate to maintain this estabUshment and in addition two 
high-class automobiles. Mrs. W — is a social leader and does much entertaining. 
She is a patron of community drama and attends grand opera and the leading theaters 
in the "Loop." They were formerly Catholics but now attend the Bahai Assembly. 
Dr. W — is a member of two fraternal orders and two social clubs. Their recreation 
is tennis, boating, motoring, and bathing. He is a director of the Chicago Health 
Society. He is an examining physician and a member of the board of directors in a 
Ufe insurance company. Both are members of the Art Institute and are active in 
supporting the settlements and hospitals of the community. 

In addition to her social duties Mrs. W — continues the study of music. She is 
chaperon at the regular dances of a post of the American Legion held in the South 
Side Community Center; a member of the Library Committee of the Y.W.C.A., 
and is interested in the entertainment of Negro students of the University of Chicago. 


They are living in a neighborhood in which several bombings of homes of Negroes 
have occurred, but Mrs. W — says that their relations with the white neighbors are 


Mr. C — was bom in Chicago in 1869. His grandmother was part Indian and his 
grandfather of Scotch extraction. The grandfather was born in Cincinnati, and 
was graduated from Oberlin CoUege. His father's brother was a personal friend of 
Owen jLovejoy and WendeU Phillips. In Leavenworth, Kansas, a monument had 
been erected to him as the first Negro captain of a volunteer company. He fought 
with General Buckner in New Orleans, was active as an abolitionist, and his wife 
was one of the women sent to Kansas to establish schools among Negroes. She taught 
school for thirty-six years and was one of the first women in the country who were 
graduated as kindergarten teachers. His maternal grandfather bought a home in 
Chicago in 1854 and Hved where the Federal Building now stands. At the time of 
Mr. C — 's birth his father Uved on Plymouth Court, then called Diana Place. They 
lived for thirty-one years on South La Salle Street, where they owned their home. 

Economic sufficiency. — Mr. C — is a graduate of the Chicago College of Dental 
Surgery and practiced his profession untU iU health forced him into other fields. He 
has been a clerk in the county treasurer's office, assistant bookkeeper in a white bank 
in Memphis, which position he held for two years, and assistant electrician for a tele- 
phone company. Now, at fifty-one, he is superintendent of the Western Exposition 
Company's building. Twice he has lost his savings by bank failures. He lost $9,000 
through the failure of the Day and Night Bank in Memphis, Tennessee. He owns a 
house and lot, oil and mining stocks valued at $4,600, Liberty bonds, Thrift stamps, 
and carries a small bank balance. His present home is a four-room flat in a building 
on South State Street, which contains forty apartments and two stores. With him 
lives the family of his younger brother, who has a twelve-year-old son. He is a 
member of the Baptist church and two fraternal orders. His chief recreation is 
swimming, and he finds his entertainment in the "Loop" theaters and the city 


Mr. and Mrs. T — came to Chicago in 191 9, the wife arriving one month before 
her husband. They had been Hving in St. Loms, Missouri, where Mr. T — was 
employed as a roller in an aluminum works. Prior to that time he had been a house- 
man, and before that a teamster. 

There are two children. One is fourteen years old and in the first-year high school, 
and the other is seven and in the first-grade grammar school. 

Mrs. T — has always been a substantial aid to her husband, and, as she says, she 
"doesn't always wait for him to bring something to her, but goes out herself and helps 
to get it." Accordingly, when reports were being circulated that Chicago offered 
good jobs and a comfortable Hving, she came up to investigate while her husband held 
his job in St. Louis. 

Home life in Chicago. — The family Uves on State Street over a store. They have 
moved four times since coming to Chicago in 1919, once to be nearer work, once to 
get out of a neighborhood that suffered during the riot, and twice to find a more desir- 
able neighborhood for their family. They are not satisfied with their present home 


and are planning to move again as soon as a more suitable place can be found. With 
them live a sister-in-law and her child, who are regarded as members of the family. 
The house is in poor sanitary condition. The toilet is in the yard and used by two 
families. There is no bath. The sister-in-law is a music teacher but does not earn 
much. She pays board when she can aflE'ord it. 

Mr. T — is forty-seven and his wife forty-six years old. He is employed at the 
International Harvester Company and earns $35 a week for a nine-hour day. He 
consumes an hour and a half each day going to work. 

Although Mr. T — Uved on a farm and too far from school to attend, he taught 
himself to read and write. Mrs. T — went as far as the eighth grade in grammar 

Community participation. — The entire family belongs to a Methodist church. 
Mr. T — is a member of the Knights of Pythias and Mrs. T — is a member of the 
Sisters of the Mysterious Ten. They have no active recreation. For amusement 
they attend motion-picture shows in the neighborhood. The children regularly use 
the playground near their home and the Twenty-sixth Street Beach. 

Adjustment to Chicago. — Their most difficult adjustment has been in housing. 
They think landlords should be forced to provide better homes for the people in view 
of the high rents. 


Mr. B — was born in Texas, lived for a number of years in Tuskegee, Alabama, 
moved to Montgomery, and thence to Chicago in the summer of 1906. His first 
position here was that of coachman for I30 a month, room, and board. His next 
position was that of porter, working fifteen hours a day for $30 a week. He accumu- 
lated a small amount of money, and, wishing to enter business for himself, and not 
having sufficient funds to attend a speciaUzed school, he secured a job with an 
embalmer and worked for him four years. In 1 913 he entered the undertaking busi- 
ness for himself. He is now buying a two-story brick building on a five-year contract, 
to serve as a place of business and a home. The business is young and was begun on 
small capital. To estabUsh himself he exhausted his little bank account and sold his 
Liberty bonds. His equipment is still incomplete, and he rents funeral cars and other 
equipment necessary for burials. 

Community participation. — Both Mr. and Mrs. B— are members of several local 
improvement clubs; they attend Friendship Baptist Church, and each belongs to 
three fraternal orders. 

Sentiments on local conditions. — Mrs. B— thinks the town too large for much 
friendliness. Mr. B — believes that there should be a segregated vice district. His 
principal objection to the present scattering of houses of prostitution is that his wife, 
who is frequently obliged to return home late at night, is subjected to insults from men 
in the neighborhood. He thinks there should be a law requiring that landlords clean 
flats at least once a year. 


Dr. C — is a good example of the numbers of young Negro professional men in 
Chicago. His ofi&ce is on State Street near Thirty-fifth. He was born in Albany, 
New York, and his wife in Keokuk, Iowa. They have lived in Chicago since 191 5. 

Early experiences in profession. — Through a civil-service examination Dr. C — • 
secured a place as junior physician at the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. At 


the same time he passed with high rating an examination for intemeship at the Oak 
Forest Infirmary. At the latter place he was promptly rejected because of his 
color, and at the former he was asked to leave nine hours after he reported for 

Economic status. — Dr. C — owns a house and lot in his former home, Albany, which 
he values at $14,000 and other property and stock holdings valued at $13,000. 

Education. — Dr. C — was graduated from the Brooklyn Grammar School, the 
Boys' High School of Brooklyn, and Cornell University, where he obtained his A.B. 
and M.D. degrees. Mrs. C — is a graduate nurse. He is at present an associate 
surgeon and chief of the dispensary of a local hospital. 

Community participation. — He has already assumed a position of leadership in 
the social activities of the community, is a trustee of the new Metropolitan Church, 
a thirty-second degree Mason, a member of the Knights of Pythias, Chicago Medical 
Society, American Medical Association, Urban League, and a director of the Com- 
munity Service, and also an instructor at the Chicago Hospital College. 

Opinions on race relations. — He believes that the recent migration of Negroes has 
been an advantage in teaching Chicago Negroes the value of property ownership and 
co-operation. He thinks the scarcity of homes for Negroes can be relieved by allow- 
ing Negroes "as much freedom as the American dollar." Definite suggestions for 
improving conditions within the race he gives as follows: 

1. Establishment of a permanent medivma for understanding between the two 
races — a permanent commission to act in the adjustment of difiiculties of any kind. 
This body should be composed of Negroes and whites. 

2. Rigid enforcement of existing laws. 

3. A systematic campaign under the direction of the commission among Negroes 
to teach them personal hygiene. 

4. Negroes should join labor unions and refuse to serve as strike breakers. 

5. When Negroes do act as strike breakers, the doctor thinks, race friction is 
created and labor is cheapened. Negroes can obtain a square deal from the unions 
only when they have joined them in sufiicient numbers to demand justice by becom- 
ing an important factor in the unions. If they are not permitted in certain unions 
they should form groups of their own for collective bargaining. 


Numbers of young Negro lawyers are establishing themselves in Chicago, and 
their influence already is being felt in the community. A good example of this group 
is Mr. J — , who, although only twenty-eight years old, has been actively practicing 
law six years. He was born in Kentucky and has lived in Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, 
New York, and Oklahoma. 

Education. — He completed high school in Kansas, graduated from Oberlin 
College, and then went to Colimibia University, New York, and received the degrees 
of Master of Arts and Bachelor of Laws. His wife completed the junior year in 
college in New York, studied art in New York City, and is skilled in china painting. 

Home life. — Mr. and Mrs. J — have one child of four years. They live in one of 
the 1,400 buildings owned by a real estate man of that district who "notoriously 
neglects his property." The struggle to establish himself during the first few years 


in Chicago was difficult. Now Mr. J — ■ has the confidence of a large number of 
people, and a clientele which provides a comfortable income. 

Community participation. — Mr. J — is a trustee of the institutional A.M.E. 
Church, chairman of the United Political League, member of the Y.M.C.A., Knights 
of Pythias, a Greek-letter fraternity and the Urban League, and is a member of the 
Executive Committee of the Friends of Negro Freedom. 

Civic consciousness. — He thinks that if working Negroes and working white men 
can be led to regard one another as workingmen interested in the same cause the 
color question wUl be forgotten. He believes that prejudice is based on the economic 
system. With respect to housing he thinks a Negro should, as an American citizen, 
be free to purchase real estate wherever he is able to make a purchase; that as long as 
artificial barriers are set up there can be no successful solution of the color question; 
that a man's respect for the rights of others increases in proportion to his intelligence, 
and that the press can be a great source of evil or good in educating the people. 
He believes that there should be clubs and educational meetings to instruct some of 
the less refined classes of Negroes in conduct. 


Mr. and Mrs. F — lived in Jackson, Mississippi, until 191 7, the year of the 
migration, when they moved to Chicago. He followed his clientele and established 
an office on State Street near Thirty-first Street. Mr. F — received his commercial 
and legal training at Jackson College and Walden University. Mrs. F — is a graduate 
of Rust College and the University of Chicago. 

Home life. — The F — home evidences their economic independence. It contains 
ten rooms and bath and is kept in excellent condition. They own six houses in the 
South, from which they receive an income. Mr. F — is the president of an insurance 
company incorporated in Illinois in 1918, which has a membership of 12,000. He 
has also organized a mercantile company, grocery and market on State Street, incor- 
porated for $10,000, of which $7,000 has been paid. 

They have two sons, nineteen and twelve years of age, and three adult nephews 
living with them. One nephew is a painter at the Stock Yards, another is a laborer, 
and the third a shipping-clerk. 

Community participation. — They are members of the Baptist church and of the 
People's Movement, while Mr. F — is a member of the Appomattox Club, an organi- 
zation of leading Negro business and professional men. In addition to membership 
in three fraternal organizations, they are interested in and contribute to the support 
of the Urban League and United Charities. 

Opinions on race relations. — Concerning housing, Mr. F — feels that some corpora- 
tion should buUd medium-sized cottages for workingmen. He thinks that the changes 
in labor conditions make it hard for Negroes to grasp immediately the northern 
industrial methods. Patience will help toward adjustment, he thinks. 

He thinks that colored women receive better protection in Chicago than in the 
South. His experience in the courts leads him to believe that Negroes have a fairer 
chance here than in the South. Agitation by the press in his opinion can have no 
other effect than to make conditions worse. 



The purpose of this section of the report is to describe by a selection of 
types the physical condition of houses occupied as residences by Negroes. 
This description includes the structure, age, repair, upkeep, and other factors 
directly affecting the appearance, sanitation, and comfort of dwellings available 
for Negro use. 

In 1909 the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy included Negro 
housing in a series of general housing studies. This study was confined to 
the two largest areas of Negro residence, those on the South and West sides. 
Both of these were studied generally, and m each a selected area, of four blocks 
in one case and three blocks in the other, was studied mtensively. 

The South Side area mcluded parts of the Second, Third, and Thirteenth 
wards between Fifteenth and Fifty-fifth streets, with State Street as the main 
thoroughfare. The four blocks bounded by Dearborn Street, Twenty-seventh 
Street, Armour Avenue, and Thirty-second Street were intensively studied. 
It was found that within these four blocks 94 per cent of the heads of families 
were Negroes. The buildmgs were one- and two-story, with a considerable 
amount of vacant space in the lots. Half the lots had less than 50 per cent 
of their space covered. The houses were for the most part intended for single 
families but had been converted mto two-flat buildmgs. Rooms were poorly 
lighted and ventilated, the sanitation bad, and the alley and grounds about 
the houses covered with rubbish and refuse. 

Comparisons with other districts studied showed the following: Of houses 
in a PoHsh district, 71 per cent were in good repair; in a Bohemian district, 
57 per cent; Stock Yards district, 54 per cent; Jewish and South Chicago 
districts, 28 per cent; and in the Negro district, 26 per cent. A study made 
three years later by the School of Civics covermg the same area showed a 
decrease of 16 per cent of buildings m good repair. Five buildmgs had been 
closed by the Department of Health as no longer fit for habitation. There 
were leaks in the roofs, sinks, and windows of five-sixths of the dwellmgs. 
In describing a typical house in this area, the report said: 

There was no gutter and the roof leaked in two places, the sink drain in the 
basement leaked, keeping it continually damp, the opening of the chimney let the 
rain come down there, the windowpane in front rattled from lack of putty. The 
conditions in these houses are typical; almost every tenant tells of rain coming in 
through roof, chimney or windows, and cases of fallen plaster and windows without 
putty were too common to be noted. One aspect of the situation that should not be 
overlooked is the impossibility of putting these old houses in good condition. Leaks 
may be repaired, plaster may be replaced, windows may be made tight, and these things 
would certainly unprove most of the houses, but when all were done it would not aker 
the^fact that these are old houses, poorly built, through which the wind can blow at will. 

Lack of repairs to the houses in the "Black Belt" is accounted for by the 
fact that owners do not regard the buildings as worth repairing, and that 



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tenants can always be found, even though it is necessary to reduce rents some- 
what. This reduction is indeed notable. The School of Civics found that 
while in 1909 50 per cent of the houses examined on the South Side rented 
for as much as $16 a month, in 1917 only 13 per cent could command as high 
a rental as that; that in 1909 the prevailing rents were $15 and $16 as against 
$10 and $12 in 1917. 

On the West Side the area studied generally was that bounded by Lake 
Street, Ashland, Austin, and Western avenues. Here the situation was little 
better. One-third of the families visited in the three selected blocks bounded 
by Fulton and Paulina streets, Carroll Avenue and Robey Street were Negroes. 
The remaining two-thirds represented sixteen nationalities. It was reported 
that the white residents could get advantages and improvements for their 
houses that a Negro could not. While 35 per cent of the houses were reported 
in good repair, 31 per cent were described as "absolutely dilapidated" and in 
a worse state of repair than those in any other districts studied except the Jewish 
district. The report said: 

Broken-down doors, unsteady flooring, and general dilapidation were met by the 
investigators at every side. Windowpanes were out, doors hanging on single hinges 
or entirely fallen off, and roofs rotting and leaking. Colored tenants reported that 
they found it impossible to persuade their landlords either to make the necessary 
repairs or to release them from their contracts; and that it was so hard to find better 
places in which to live that they were forced either to make the repairs themselves, 
which they could rarely afford to do, or to endure the conditions as best they might. 
Several tenants ascribed cases of severe and prolonged illness to the unhealthful condi- 
tion of the houses in which they were living. 

That there was a continuing demand even for the shacks and shanties of 
the " Black Belt" is evidenced in a report made by the Urban League of Chicago 
in 191 7 that only one out of every thirteen Negro applicants for houses to rent 
could be supplied. At the height of the demand applications for houses were 
coming in at the rate of 460 to 600 a day, and only ninety-nine were available 
for renting purposes. This was due, of course, to the growing stream of 
Negroes arriving daily from the South. 

Covering the same area on the South Side as that studied by the School 
of Civics in 191 7 a canvass was also made in 191 7 by Caswell W. Crews, a 
student at the University of Chicago. He found that tenants had remained in 
these dwellings in some instances as long as twenty years after their unfitness 
had become evident, because the rent was low and they could find nowhere 
else to go. He mentioned the mass of migrants from the South who, because 
of their ignorance of conditions in Chicago as to what was desirable and what 
was to be had for a given sum, fell an easy prey to unscrupulous owners and 
agents. Mr. Crew's description said: 

With the exception of two or three the houses are frame, and paint with them is a 
dim reminiscence. There is one rather modern seven-room flat building of stone 


front, the flats renting at $22.50 a month and offering the best in the way of accom- 
modations to be found there. There is another makeshift flat building situated above 
a saloon and pool hall, consisting of six six-room flats, renting at $12 per month, but 
in a very poor condition of repair. Toilets and baths were found to be in no condition 
for use and the plumbing in such a state as to constantly menace health. Practically 
aU of the houses have been so reconstructed as to serve as flats, accommodating two 
and sometimes three families. As a rule there are four, five, and sometimes six rooms 
in each flat, there being but five instances when there were more than six. It is often 
the case that of these rooms not aU can be used because of dampness, leaking roofs, 
or defective toilets overhead. 

The owners are in most instances scarcely better oflf than their tenants and can 
ill afford to make repairs. One house in the rear of another on Federal Street near 
Twenty-seventh had every door off its hinges, water covering the floor from a defective 
sink, and windowpanes out. A cleaning of the house had been attempted, and the 
cleaners had torn loose what paper yielded readily and proceeded to whitewash over 
the adhering portion which constituted the majority of the paper. There were 
four such rooms and for them the family paid $7 a month. 

In 1920 a cursory examination by investigators from the Commission 
showed that the only change in the situation was further deterioration in the 
physical state of the dwellings. 

The movement of the Negro population across State Street eastward into 
the area once occupied by wealthy whites began as early as 1910. Wabash 
Avenue was the first street into which they moved. Gradually they scattered 
farther east toward Lake Michigan. Following the migration from the 
South the Negro area east of State Street expanded to the lake and pushed 
southward. The houses which they found in the new territory, although 
from twenty to forty years old, were a vast improvement over those they had 
left west of State Street. These houses do not permit of any general classifica- 
tion, for some are very bad while others, though not new, are in a state of good 
repair, largely according to the care taken by previous occupants. Along with 
descriptions of Negro homes must be considered the tendency among those 
Negroes who were able to move away from the congested areas of Negro 
residence. Some of the best houses occupied by Negroes in 1920 were in 
districts until recently wholly white. 

A rough classification of Negro housing according to types, ranging from 
the best, designated as "Type A," to the poorest, designated as "Type D," 
was made by the Commission on the basis of a block survey comprising 238 
blocks, covering all the main areas of Negro residence, and data concerning 
274 families, scattered through these 238 blocks, one or two to a block, whose 
histories and housing experiences were intensively studied by the Commission's 
investigators. Approximately 5 per cent of Chicago's Negro population live 
in "T3^e A" houses, 10 per cent in "Type B," 40 per cent in "Type C," and 
45 per cent in the poorest, "Type D." 


I. ''type a" houses 

Type A houses, with those of the other types, were not concentrated 
wholly m any one section but were found widely scattered; there were none, 
however, in the areas which in 19 10 held practically the whole Negro popula- 
tion. Examples of Type A were found on South Park Avenue between 
Thirty-third and Thirty-fifth streets, where some Negroes had lived for six 
years; on Grand Boulevard between Thirty-fifth and Thirty-eighth streets, 
where a few had lived for three years; on Champlain, Evans, Vincennes, 
and Langley avenues, between Forty-third and Forty-seventh streets, where 
some Negroes had hved four and five years; and on Wabash Avenue between 
Fifty-first and Fifty-third streets. In Woodlawn there are a few of recent 
occupancy, one of which was built by its Negro owner. 

Most of the Type A dwellings are of substantial construction, principally 
of brick and stone. Some are old family residences in formerly high-class 
neighborhoods, built to withstand the test of years. Consequently, although 
they have been subject to the usual deterioration, they still afford a fairly 
high standard of comfort and convenience. Some are large and exceptionally 
well equipped with luxurious fittings and adornments installed by former 
owners. Most of these houses were built and owned by people of wealth who 
abandoned them. Many of them have since passed through several stages 
of occupancy. Somewhat less permanent in their physical aspects perhaps 
are the Type A houses in Woodlawn. Many of the houses in this district are 
of frame structure, and they are not as commodious as those in the formerly 
fashionable white districts. But they provide a desirable measure of comfort, 
with less waste space and superfluous rooms. 

Comforts and conveniences. — Type A dweUings are fitted with all the 
conveniences required by well-to-do whites. Some of them have more than 
the customary one bathroom, have electricity and gas, and are well heated 
by steam or hot-air furnaces. One example of Type A housing is a three-story, 
stone-front, ten-room house on South Park Avenue owned and occupied by 
a lawyer and his family. There is a garage, and the place is kept in good 
condition. A twelve-room house, also on South Park Avenue, owned and 
occupied by a physician and his family, has two bathrooms, steam heat, and 
electricity, and is in excellent repair. Another physician on the same street 
owns a three-story brown-stone house, with a garage. It contains ten rooms 
and two bathrooms, has steam heat and electric lights, and is in good condition. 
For this property he paid $35,000. A three-story brick house on Vernon 
Avenue is owned and occupied by a business man. In addition to other modem 
conveniences there are lavatories in four of the bedrooms. The house is in 
excellent condition. A nine-room house on Langley Avenue, in good repair, 
owned by another business man, has gas, furnace heat, and a bathroom. 

The occupants. — Although these buildings are occupied by the wealthier 
Negroes, business or professional men, it often happens that others secure and 


occupy such houses. High wages during the war and immediately afterward 
permitted some Negroes who arrived in Chicago during the migration to live 
in the best class of housing available for Negroes. For example, an undertaker 
owns such a house on Langley Avenue, with seven rooms, with gas, a bathroom, 
electricity, and hot-water heat. This building is ornate and in excellent 
repair. A postal clerk who has been in Chicago since 1897 owns a seven-room 
house on Champlain Avenue south of Sixty-sixth Street, where he lives with 
his wife and child. In the block south of Forty-third Street on Prairie Avenue 
is a nine-room house occupied by an employee of the American Express Com- 
pany. In order to help pay the rent, four lodgers are taken, who together 
pay $20 a week. The house, which includes a bathroom, is furnace-heated 
and lighted by electricity. A transfer man pays $65 a month rent for an 
eight-room house of this class on Bowen Avenue. He earns $35 a week, and 
two lodgers pay $50 a month. The house has bath, electricity, and furnace. 
A railroad porter, who has been a doctor's assistant and has lived in Chicago 
since 1886, owns a house on Rhodes Avenue near Sixty-sixth Street. It has 
seven rooms and is provided with a furnace, gas, bathroom, and electricity. 

Neighborhood conditions. — Surroundings of Type A houses are generally 
far more pleasant than those in areas where the majority of Negroes live. 
The streets and alleys are usually clean, except where Type A houses are 
in neighborhoods surrounded by poorer houses. The premises are generally 
well kept. This is especially true where the occupants are owners. When 
space permits, there is a lawn or a garden that shows signs of pride and atten- 
tion. One block was noted, however, where the residents reported that the 
street was watered twice a day until Negroes moved in, after which it received 
no such attention. 

II. "type b" houses 

Type B designates a class of houses which have not the size, durability, 
permanence, architectural embellishments, or general standard of comfort 
and convenience of those classed as Type A. They are usually flat buildings, 
whether originally intended for that purpose or not. Frequently dwellings 
are rearranged by landlords, when Negroes are given occupancy, to accommodate 
two or more families in place of the one for which they were built. T5q)e B 
houses have less floor space, the average number of rooms is fewer, and they 
have, as a rule, fewer modern conveniences. Still, they are good houses and 
much superior to the habitations in which Negroes are most often found. 

Occupants of Type B houses are frequently found to be clerical workers, 
postal clerks, railway mail clerks, small tradesmen, artisans, and better-paid 
workers in steel mills and Stock Yards. 

Most of the houses in the part of Woodlawn inhabited by Negroes are of 
Type B. Another district in which this type of house is found extends from 
Fortieth to Forty-seventh streets on Langley, Evans, Champlain, Vincennes, 
and St. Lawrence avenues. Although in this area a few dwellings are of 

Classified in text as "Type A" 





Type A, the greater part of them fall under Type B. About 5 per cent of the 
dwellings occupied by Negroes on the West Side — for example, some of those 
on Oakley and Washington boulevards — might also be classed as Type B. 
Brick or stone dwellings predominate in the districts where this type is found. 
For example, the block survey made by the Commission covered twelve blocks 
in the Negro residence in Woodlawn on which there were 190 brick or stone 
and 119 frame houses. Practically all the Type B dwellings are one- and 
two-family houses, and the majority are two-family houses. The Com- 
mission's study shows that these dwellings are not overcrowded and house 
their families comfortably. Many of the occupants own their homes. 

Comforts and conveniences. — Most of these houses have baths, electric 
lights, steam, hot-water or hot-air heating, and gas for cooking. Only a few 
are heated by stoves or lack electrical fixtures. They were found to be in 
good repair, well kept and clean. Special pride is taken by home owners 
of this class in keeping the property presentable and preventing rapid deteriora- 
tion. Family histories reveal that most of the Woodlawn residents are long- 
time residents of Chicago. 

Neighborhood conditions. — In the neighborhoods where Type B houses 
were found, no uniform standard of cleanliness was evident in streets and alleys 
or in adjoining properties. They were as frequently unkempt as tidy. 
Although the premises of Type B houses were generally kept neat, surrounding 
untidiness often detracted from their appearance. But a block containing 
a majority of this type usually had an appearance of being better kept, whether 
the surrounding property was occupied by whites or Negroes. In the Wood- 
lawn area the surroundings of the houses were well cared for, and sanitary 
measures were commonly observed. In some blocks in the Langley Avenue 
neighborhood carelessness and neglect were evident. Vacant lots were no 
more littered with rubbish than in white areas of a similar grade. 

m. "type c" houses 

Type C houses are the most common in areas of Negro residence. In 
this classification are included about 50 per cent of the houses on the South 
Side east of State Street, most of those in the North Side area, about 60 per 
cent of those in the West Side area, practically all those in the Ogden Park 
area, and many dwellings in the little Lake Park district. 

Heads of families occupying Type C houses were usually unskilled wage- 
earners, or in personal service. Their incomes were such that they could rarely 
afford more than $20 a month rent. 

Types of houses. — Eleven blocks on the North Side were included in the 
Commission's block survey. In these blocks 146 of the buildings were of 
brick or stone, and 123 frame. Fifteen were single houses, four were double, 
and 167 housed three or more families, the largest proportion of such buildings 
in any district examined. There were also four rows of houses. They were 


in a fair state of repair. Four-room houses or flats predominated among the 
fourteen families whose histories were taken. In one instance seven persons 
were living in four rooms, in another nine persons were living in seven rooms, 
in another eleven persons were living in seven rooms. The dwellings were 
mainly one- and two-story buildings, with a few three- and six-flat buildings. 

A large proportion of buildings housing three or more families was found 
also in Ogden Park. In eleven blocks there were 109 such buildings. There 
were also sixty-eight single and no double houses. The frame buUdings 
numbered 189, and brick or stone forty-eight. Most of the houses were one- 
and two-story frame buildings. The majority were in good or fair repair, 
though one block showed gross neglect of repairs to exteriors, and practically 
all needed painting. Five-room dwellings predominated among the fifteen 
families whose histories were recorded. Overcrowding was frequent. In 
one instance eleven persons lived in five rooms; in another nine persons in 
five rooms. 

In the part of the South Side area east of State Street and between Twenty- 
second and Thirty-first streets forty-two blocks were surveyed. Michigan, 
Indiana, and Prairie avenues have excellent dwelluigs, practically all of which 
are still occupied by whites. UntU a few years ago these were fashionable 
residential streets, and the buildings are large, well built, and often ornate. 
Surrounding them, however, are hundreds of houses, old and difi&cult to keep 
in repair. In these forty-two blocks there were 767 buildings of which 163 
were frame and 604 brick. About 37 per cent of these are of Type C. 

The surroundings of these buildings appear in brief conmients on some of 
these blocks, taken from investigator's notes, as follows: 

Property has been allowed to run down. 

Five vacant houses; yards full of rubbish; lodgers transient; families do not move. 

Vacant lot dirty. 

Two vacant lots; yards well kept. 

Garbage piled up on vacant lot ; Negroes moving in. 

Roomers move often; one poolroom; empty church buUding. 

Vacant lot used as dump; yards well kept. 

Two vacant houses robbed of plumbing fixtures. 

Yards poorly kept; whites moved out three years ago, except one family. 

Vacant lot used as dump; one poolroom, two hotels; yards weU kept; Negroes 
moving in. 

Yards unkempt ; mostly renters. 

Formerly questionable houses for whites. 

Mostly newcomers; property run down. 

Yards well kept ; boarding-houses. 

People move in because they can't find anything better. 

Between Thirty-first and Thirty-ninth streets east of State Street seventy- 
eight blocks were surveyed. There were seventy-eight frame and 1,523 brick 
and stone buildings, 620 single houses, 559 double, 254 accommodating three 


or more families, and nine apartment houses. Of this group 51 per cent were 
of Type C. The property and general surroundings showed age and the 
beginning of rapid deterioration everywhere; in some cases there had been 
attempts to care for the premises and in some cases neglect was obvious. 
The streets, except Michigan Avenue and South Park Boulevard, showed 
much neglect, and the alleys generally were dirty. Many of these houses 
were occupied by their Negro owners. Negroes were found to occupy about 
40 per cent of these Type C houses. 

Conveniences. — In these two parts of the South Side area conveniences 
and ordinary sanitary facilities are often absent. Gas is the common form of 
lighting, and often it is not used. Family-history data revealed that there 
were about as many homes without as with bathrooms. In a large number of 
buildings families were obliged to use common toilets located in halls or back 
yards. The dwellings were out of repair in some respects in nearly every 
instance. Defects of this kind were often in the plumbing. Leaky toilets 
or water pipes were common complaints. Some toilets did not flush. Some 
sinks were leaky, as were some of the roofs. In some houses windows or doors 
were broken, loose, or sagging. Some houses were very dirty. 

On the West Side a situation not essentially different was found among 
the Type C dwellings. Possibly baths were a little more frequent. Occasion- 
ally there was a furnace, though stove heat was most common. Gas was the 
usual means of lighting. The situation as to toilets was about the same, and 
the buildings, being chiefly old, were usually out of repair in some respect. 
The number of brick and frame dwellings was about equal. There were more 
double houses in proportion to the single ones, and none that had three or 
more families. Five-room dwellings were most numerous, and there was 
little indication of overcrowding. 

Neighborhood conditions. — Only two blocks in the West Side area were 
rated as merely "fair," four in the North Side area were dirty, while only one 
in the Ogden Park area was not cleaned. In the North Side and Ogden Park 
areas distinct efforts were observed to keep yards clean. Premises showed 
signs of care and attention, though an occasional vacant lot showed use for 
dumping. Alleys in all three districts gave evidence of neglect. Some were 
badly littered with garbage and rubbish. 

IV. "type d" houses 

Type D housing is the least habitable of all. The houses were usually 
dilapidated, and in many cases extremely so. Most of the buildings are 
among the oldest in the city. They were occupied only by Negroes at the foot 
of the economic scale, many families living from hand to mouth, frequently in 
extreme poverty. 

This class of houses predominates in those parts of the South Side area 
from Twelfth to Twenty-second Street along State Street and Wabash Avenue, 


and from TweKth to Thirty-ninth streets and Wentworth Avenue. Many 
Negro dwellings in the North Side area and about 35 or 40 per cent of those in 
the West Side area were of Type D. Even in the area of the South Side 
between State Street and Lake Michigan many of the older frame and brick 
buildings fall into this classification. It is safe to say that 43 per cent of the 
housing for Negroes is of this type. 

Most of these dwellings were frail, flimsy, tottering, unkempt, and some 
of them literally falling apart. Little repairing is done from year to year. 
Consequently their state grows progressively worse, and they are now even 
less habitable than when the surveys quoted at the beginning of this section 
were made. The surroundings in these localities were in a condition of extreme 
neglect, with little apparent effort to observe the laws of sanitation. Streets, 
alleys, and vacant lots contained garbage, rubbish, and litter of all kinds. 
It is difficult to enforce health regulations. 

Although there has been protest by Negroes against the necessity of living 
in places so uncomfortable and unhealthful, improvement comes slowly. 
Contentment with such insanitary conditions is usually due to ignorance of 
better living. For the poorest buUdings low rents are offered to encourage 
continued occupancy and to forestall requests for repairs. Prompt vacating 
of many of these houses usually follows when a family can secure better accom- 
modations in a better neighborhood.^ 


Among the more intelligent Negroes neighborhood organizations were 
found similar to those of white people. Dissatisfaction with local conditions, 
failure of authorities to sweep and sprinkle streets or to provide adequate 
street lighting, corner signs, and similar equipment usually prompt these 
efforts. Three or four such societies have been instituted by Negroes in 
Chicago. One example is the Middlesex Improvement Club, organized 
following the riots of 1919 in a neighborhood including three blocks on Dearborn 
Street near Fiftieth. Among other things it seeks to promote a friendly 
spirit among the people of both races in a neighborhood which was turbulent 
during the riots. It has extended some financial aid to its members when 
required. It is financed by Negro business men with some help from white 
business men of the locality. 

Woodlawn has a commimity organization which reflects the friendly 
attitude between the races in that district. Both whites and Negroes are 
members, with a common community interest. This organization goes 
somewhat beyond the usual neighborhood improvement association in scope 
and purpose. While it embodies the usual purposes, it also seeks to induce 
full use by all the people of the district of all public and semi-public institutions 
that contribute to good citizenship. One of the notices sent out by the associa- 

' See "Family Histories," p. 170. 


tion urged attendance at night sessions of public schools. It briefly set forth 
the advantages for both young and older people, suggesting that their useful- 
ness to the community might thus be enlarged, that they might be trained 
for profitable employment, and incidentally that young people could be kept 
off the streets and away from demoralizing places. Attention was drawn to 
the fact that "business men of the city are seeking young people, both col- 
ored and white, for positions as stenographers, clerks, and trades people." 
The notice closed thus: 

We are desirous that you use your influence to maintain a spirit of friendliness 
and good will among all citizens, white and black, and especially among the school 
children, paying especial attention to the conduct of pupils to and from school. We 
earnestly seek your co-operation in these matters. 

In the neighborhood of Fifty-sixth Street and Wabash Avenue is another 
of these neighborhood leagues; all the members are Negroes. Meetings 
take place periodically at the houses of members, and special attention is 
given to such matters as the condition of their premises, care of lawns, etc. 


Social agencies likewise have given considerable attention to the instruction 
and encouragement of Negroes in better living. While this effort has been 
directed mainly to the newer arrivals from the South, it has also had an effect 
on many who have lived in the city for some time but have not yet adjusted 
themselves to city life and more rigid standards of sanitation and deportment. 

One of these agencies is the Urban League. Among other activities it 
issued placards to be kept in sight in Negro homes, graphically contrasting good 
and bad habits of living. Pictures showed the front porch of a Negro family 
as it should and should not be used, with the pointed question, "Which?" 
underneath. Then followed a sort of pledge of conduct: 

/ realize that our soldiers have learned new habits of self-respect and cleanliness. 

I desire to help bring about a new order of living in this community. 

/ will attend to the neatness of my personal appearance on the street or when 
sitting in front doorways. 

/ will refrain from wearing dust caps, bungalow aprons, house clothing, and 
bedroom shoes out of doors. 

/ will arrange my toilet within doors and not on the front porch. 

I will insist upon the use of rear entrances for coal dealers, hucksters, etc. 

/ will refrain from loud talking and objectionable deportment on street cars and 
in pubhc places. 

/ will do my best to prevent defacement of property either by children or adults. 

The guidance and instruction given by the South Side Community Service, 
pastors of churches and Negro newspapers have stimulated the Negro popula- 
tion to efforts at improvement of their property. One newspaper, for example, 
conducted a column containing hints on cleanliness, sanitation, and deport- 
ment. It printed items concerning objectionable conditions at given addresses 


and warned offenders that they were being watched by the neighborhood 
organization, which might take action against them if they did not improve 
their conduct. 

Another way in which Negroes have been led to understand that habits 
of orderliness and cleanliness are expected of them in Chicago has been through 
a "Clean-up Week" in the spring of each year, when concerted efforts are made 
to collect and dispose of tin cans and other rubbish on vacant lots and yards. 
A "Tin Can Contest" was conducted by the Wabash Avenue Y.M.C.A., 
which offered prizes to the children collecting the greatest number of tin cans 
beyond 300. The 1,000 youngsters who participated in the Second Ward 
were divided into eight regiments. The eleven-year-old Negro girl who collected 
the greatest number of tin cans had a total of 6,840 to her credit. Next in 
order was Hyman Friedman, whose total was 5,347. More than 100,000 tin 
cans in all were obtained. 


Individual householders, especially those owning their homes, were found 
to be trying to keep their premises presentable often in the face of discouraging 
odds. Throughout the family histories appear repeated protests by tenants at 
the failure of landlords to maintain a decent state of repairs and improvements. 

None of the houses occupied by Negroes are of as high a standard, generally 
speaking, as those occupied by whites of a similar economic status. 

Negroes rarely live in new houses. Virtually all live in neighborhoods 
where the housing is old. Negro houses, even of the best class, were built 
from twenty to forty years ago. Conditions in these old neighborhoods do 
not make for high standards of sanitation and cleanliness, nor the best habits 
of living generally; and Negroes labor under a handicap in striving to attain 
such standards. 

Less attention is paid by pubUc authorities to the condition of streets 
and alleys in such neighborhoods than in locaHties where the housing is of a 
higher grade. The streets are not cleaned and sprinkled as often and the 
aUeys are more likely to be dirty, unpaved, and generally uncared for. 

In most of the localities where Negroes live, buildings that have not 
already reached a state of great dilapidation are deteriorating rapidly because 
of the failure of owners to make repairs and improvements. 

Escape from undesirable housing conditions is difficult for any Negroes, 
and for the vast majority it is practically impossible, particularly during a 
period of acute general housing shortage. 


No single factor has complicated the relations of Negroes and whites in 
Chicago more than the widespread feeling of white people that the presence 
of Negroes in a neighborhood is a cause of serious depreciation of property 





























values. To the extent that people feel that their financial interests are affected, 
antagonisms are accentuated. 

When a Negro famUy moves into a block in which all other families are 
white, the neighbors object. This objection may express itself in studied 
aloofness, in taunts, warnings, slurs, threats, or even the bombing of their 
homes.' White neighbors who can do so are likely to move away at the first 
opportunity. Assessors and appraisers in determining the value of the property 
take account of this general dislike of the presence or proximity of Negroes. 
It matters little what type of citizens the Negro family may represent, what 
their wealth or standing in the community is, or that their motive in moving 
into a predominant white neighborhood is to secure better living conditions — 
their appearance is a signal of depreciation. So it happens that when a Negro 
family moves into a block, most of the white neighbors show resentment 
toward both the Negro family and the owner or agent who rents or sells the 
property. Whites owning homes in the neighborhood become much exercised 
by fear of loss both of money and of neighborhood exclusiveness and desira- 
bility. The Negro suffers under the realization that, for reasons which he 
cannot control, he is considered undesirable and a menace to property values. 
Wherever Negroes have moved in Chicago this odium has attached to their 
presence. The belief that they destroy property values wherever they go is 
now commonly taken as a valid explanation of any unfriendliness toward the 
entire group. This feeUng takes on the strength of a protective instinct 
among the whites. 

So wide and menacing, indeed, has this feeling grown that the Commission 
deemed it necessary to make a thorough inquiry into its basis and to determine, 
if possible, to what degree the presence of Negroes is a factor in the depreciation 
of property values. Therefore it is essential to distinguish clearly between: 
(i) general factors in depreciation; and (2) presence of Negroes as an influence 
in these factors, and also as a direct factor. 

What is meant by "depreciation" ? Real estate men know it as "a loss 
in market value." Market value is "the price which a buyer who wishes to 
buy but is not forced to buy will pay to an owner who wishes to sell but is not 
forced to sell." Depreciation is reflected, not only in market values, but also 
in appraised or assessed valuations. Before purchasing property it is custom- 
ary to take into account the surrounding conditions that affect its value, as 
well as its inherent value. Assessed valuations, fixed for taxing purposes by 
authorized public ofl&cials, fluctuate to some extent in harmony with appraised 
valuations. This analysis of the factors that tend to determine the value 
of real estate for one purpose or another gives a fairly dependable rule for 
finding whether it has risen or fallen in a given period. If property is thus 
shown to have decreased in value, it is said to have depreciated. 

' See discussion of non-adjusted neighborhoods, p. 113, and of bombings, p. 122. 


The value of real estate is determined largely by the human factors involved. 
This fact accounts for the striking differences in value of property, for example, 
on Sixteenth Street, on State Street, m the "Loop," on Chicago Avenue, and 
on Sheridan Road. Convenience, desirability, and other factors involving 
individuals who make up the public enter into the determination of realty values. 

It is necessary to distinguish between land values and improved-property 
values. Usually buildings are erected that harmonize in cost with the value 
of the land on which they stand. But this harmonious relationship may not 
continue; developments in the neighborhood may increase materially the 
value of the land, while the value of the improvements decreases as time goes 
on. The values of the land and of the improvements do not necessarily rise 
and fall together, though improvements generally tend to add to the value 
of the land. Much, however, depends on the use to which the land is put, 
and even more on the use of adjacent land. That use may be such as seriously 
to impair the value of all the land within a given area or some particular tract 
in that area. Such impairment is a chief reason advanced for zoning, so that 
property values in various given districts may not be impaired through inhar- 
monious uses, and that property values throughout a city may thus be stabilized j 

It is also necessary to distinguish between "deterioration" and "deprecia- 
tion." They are not interchangeable. Deterioration of improvements on 
land affects the value of the improvement, not necessarily the value of the land. 
The property as a whole may be depreciated by deterioration of improvements, 
but an increase in the land value might more than offset this loss. This would 
be accounted for by a possible change in the use of the land. For example, 
the buildings on the North Side in which Negroes now live are uniformly 
old and bad, yet the Negroes cannot buy them. The properties are in process, 
of change from residence to industrial use, and the values placed upon them 
for the latter use are far beyond the financial capacity of the Negro residents. 


Apart from any racial influence there are many causes of depreciation in 
property values, the responsibility for all of which has often been thoughtlessly 
placed upon Negroes. Throughout the city may be observed blocks, streets, 
and neighborhoods running a declining course in desirability for residence 
purposes, losing value, changing in character and, in short, depreciating, but 
in or near which no Negroes Hve. The following are important factors of 
depreciation not due to race: 

Physical deterioration. — The natural wear of time and the elements is a 
constant factor. Few houses are built to withstand these inroads over a long 
course of years, even though they have the utmost care. Neglect and lack 
of repairs and improvements hasten this deterioration sometimes greatly. 
Character of occupancy is often a factor. Some occupants are highly destruc- 
tive, particularly in rented houses. Their careless or inept use of a house 


often adds vastly to the wear and tear and hastens deterioration. Over- 
crowding has a like effect. 

Change in the character of a neighborhood. — Depreciation in property 
values in large cities is due in marked degree to factors not purely physical. 
There is always a continuing yet varying fluctuation in the character of neigh- 
borhoods; a restless shifting of population and conditions due to growth 
which rarely has been orderly or scientific. The psychological factor of 
residential property values is such that they may change very rapidly with 
the advent into a homogeneous neighborhood of a few families of a different 
nationality or social status. Between Twelfth and Thirty-first steeets in 
the South Side Negro residence area, once the most fashionable white residence 
section, property values based on residential uses slumped utterly, and then 
later began to increase because of industrial uses. Such a change is often due 
to an encroachment upon a residential district of commercial or industrial 
enterprises. Neighbors will move away rather than endure such disturbance 
of their peace and comfort. Their places may be taken by people less sensi- 
tive to such influences who may be drawn to the neighborhood by reduced 
rents resulting from the exodus of former residents. Then rapid deterioration 
usually sets in as the tone of the neighborhood falls. A like result follows a 
change from an exclusive residential district into one of rooming- and boarding- 
houses and large residences remodeled into flats. 

The shifting of fashionable neighborhoods soon leads persons of means 
to abandon a high-grade residential section for some suburb or newer neighbor- 
hood which they think better suited to their social positions. 

Use of buildings for immoral purposes. — Such use, though clandestine, 
eventually becomes known; and although the property yields high rents, 
it lowers the standing and value of the block or neighborhood and of adjacent 
areas. It not only deteriorates the buildings thus used, but also drives decent 
people from the locality; and the deserted houses either remain vacant or 
are taken by less desirable occupants. Depreciation inevitably results. 

Public garages, theaters, and kindred nuisances. — People of a high-grade 
residential district do not wish to live too near a public garage, theater, bathing- 
beach, saloon, cabaret, dance hall, bowling-aUey, or biUiard room. If they are 
unable to keep such enterprises out of their neighborhood they will seU their 
property and find homes elsewhere. 

Changes in transportation facilities. — These may depreciate property in 
two ways: {a) they may themselves introduce obnoxious dirt or noise-making 
features or bring in industries with such features; (6) new transportation 
facilities often open up more desirable localities to which people are drawn 
from the older localities. In both cases depreciation ensues. 

Overbuilding. — Overbuilding is another and frequent cause of depreciation. 
Building booms are often followed by years of depression due to an oversupply 
of buildings. 



The area from Thirty-first to Thirty-ninth Streets and State Street to the 
lake is now the center of the largest Negro residential area in the city, having 
approximately 20 per cent more Negroes than whites. 

In the eighties and nineties this area was part of the most fashionable 
residential district in Chicago and included some of the city's most prominent 
families and business leaders. They lived in houses which they had built 
for their homes, and which were the first fine residences erected after the 
Chicago fire of 1871. Michigan, Prairie, and South Park avenues and Grand 
Boulevard were the most fashionable streets with the best houses. 

The Negro population then lived immediately west, between Wentworth 
Avenue and State Street and north of Thirty-fifth Street. 

The North Side and the North Shore had not yet developed as fashionable 
neighborhoods. Indeed, the most prominent residence on Lake Shore Drive 
and one of the earliest stood almost alone for many years before fashionable 
people settled around it. 

As the North Side grew in fashionable favor the South Side began to lose 
its original exclusiveness, and its residences began to depreciate. These 
properties, while their original owners occupied them, were worth, many of 
them, from $30,000 to $100,000, including large grounds, elaborate interior 
decorations, and sometimes works of art. The usual range of the original 
costs of these houses was from $10,000 to $30,000. The change steadily 
continued, and these houses were rented and sold by the first owners at reduced 
prices to persons less prominent socially, until nearly all the original families 
had gone. A few refused to sell their houses and left them in charge of care- 
takers; and a very few still remain. 

The gradual lowering of the market value of the property is pictured by 
prominent real estate men well acquainted with the neighborhood for many 
years : 

It is a positive fact, an economic fact, that any time a poor class of people moves 
into a neighborhood formerly occupied by people who had an earning capacity greater 
than that of the people moving in, there is depreciation. That is true whether Italians 
move in, or Poles, Negroes, Greeks, etc. If the people moving into the neighbor- 
hood earn less and have less than the people formerly living in that neighborhood, 
there is depreciation. 

Between 1900 and 1910 a few Negroes moved into Wabash Avenue. The 
houses were very old and built close together, with few single residences. 
Negroes did not progress farther eastward in any large numbers because the 
next street was Michigan Avenue, probably the most select of all the streets 
in the area. With the pressure of increasing numbers and ascending economic 
ability urging them out of the congested, uncomfortable, and unclean dwellings 
west of State Street, Negroes could and would pay higher rents than the class 
of white persons to which the oldest houses would next descend. In 191 2, 


in the area east of State Street,, practically all of the original residents had 
gone, and few Negroes had come in. Real estate men estimate that generally 
natural depreciation proceeds at the rate of 2 to 2^ per cent a year. When 
Negroes first came into the area the buildings were at least twenty years old, 
and many were much older, representing at the lowest figure a very substantial 

There was another important factor in the depreciation of the area. In 
1912 the old vice district west of State Street and immediately northwest of 
this area was broken up. The inmates numbered approximately 2,000 and 
were by no means confined strictly within the recognized limits. They moved 
into the nearest good houses available where they could continue to ply their 
trade clandestinely. They could afford to pay high rents, and numbers of real 
estate owners profited greatly by dealing with them. As many of these 
houses stood, they again yielded rents almost as high as when they were new. 
Cabarets, saloons, and amusement places packed the side streets, and buffet 
flats opened up in the residence blocks. Raids and prosecution, night visits 
from men who did not live in the district, called attention to the changed 
character of the neighborhood, and property values sank lower. Pressure from 
prosecuting agencies, as well as the attraction of better houses in less con- 
spicuous neighborhoods, urged the vice element southward. This southward 
trend is indicated in the maps, facing pages 342 and 346, showing the environ- 
ment of the South Side Negro. 

WhUe property in this area could be bought cheaply it was also possible 
to obtain proportionately high rents by placing Negroes or prostitutes in houses 
not rented to either class before. Negroes were always charged higher rents 
than were the whites who immediately preceded them. 

The Juvenile Protective Association in 1913 made a study called The 
Colored People of Chicago and published it in a small pamphlet. Concerning 
the disposition of real estate men to profit in this way, the reports say: 

.... the dealer offers to the owner of an apartment house which is no longer 
renting advantageously to white tenants cash payment for a year's lease on the 
property, thus guaranteeing the owner against loss, and then he fills the building with 
colored tenants. It is said, however, that the agent does not put out the white 
tenants unless he can get 10 per cent more from the colored people. 

The fact that for like quarters Negroes pay much higher rents than any 
other group in the city was discussed by the Chicago School of Civics and 
Philanthropy in a special study of housing for Negroes in 1911-12. The 
report says: 

The explanation for this condition of affairs among the colored people is com- 
paratively simple; the results are far-reaching. The strong prejudice among the 
white people against having colored people living on white residence streets, colored 
children attending schools with white children, or entering into other semi-social rela- 
tion with them, confines the opportunities for residence open to colored people of all 



positions in life to relatively small and well-defined areas. Consequently the demand 
for houses and apartments within these areas is strong and comparatively steady, 
and smce the landlord is reasonably certain that the house or apartment can be 
filled at any time, as long as it is in any way tenantable, he takes advantage of his 
opportunities to raise rents and to postpone repairs. 

It was during this period that buildings could be easily purchased by 
Negroes. One white real estate dealer whose interests are almost exclusively 
in the area under discussion has purchased more than i,ooo such houses which 
he rents to Negroes. These buildings were not purchased from Negroes but 
from first, second, and third owners, and at a price much below the original value. 

With an opportunity for renting or purchasing the houses in this area, 
Negroes began to move in, first in small numbers and soon in larger numbers. 
They naturally sought to abandon the generally and often extremely dilapidated 
houses west of State Street. 


Buildings twenty to thirty years old deteriorate rapidly unless expensive 
repairs are made. As Negroes were often unable to make such repairs while 
paying for the property, the depreciation continued. 

Widespread buying of property in this district by Negroes began 
during the period of the migration. Many home-owning Negroes, having 
sold their property in the South and brought the money to Chicago, found it 
easier to buy a house here on a first payment of $200 to $500, and on monthly 
instalments thereafter, than to pay the rents demanded. Few, however, 
knew anything of city property values; they were often exploited by agents 
or assumed larger obligations than they could easily handle. 

Many Negroes purchased fairly substantial dwellings on the long-time 
instalment plan without providing for repairs and maintenance. Usually 
the monthly payment to cover interest, taxes, and instalment on principal 
was about all the Negro and his family could carry, even though his wife's 
wages supplemented his. Thus nothing was left for upkeep. 

Real estate agents before the Commission agreed that Negroes meet these 
obligations with reasonable regularity. One white real-estate broker said: 
"Those of us who have dealings with Negroes find that they make very fair 
clients on the whole, pay their way, and ask no favors that any other human 
being would not ask." 

Another referred to Negroes as "wonderful instalment buyers" who have 
■ a "tendency to invest in a home earlier than whites," and said that in fifteen 
years' experience his firm had never foreclosed on a Negro home buyer; and 
in only two cases, due to exceptional circumstances, had contracts been for- 
feited. Two Negro real estate dealers said: 

A colored man usually feels that he will go without food rather than not meet his 
obligations. That is one reason why sometimes his home is run down, because he 


has spent every dollar he can get to meet the payments on that property. He cannot 
spare the money sometimes to buy a lawn mower or sprinkJing hose. 

A colored man who buys a piece of property in a neighborhood has no financial 
connections. He meets his obligations promptly for three reasons: first, he wants 
a home; second, he knows they may squeeze him; third, that mortgage is coming 
due and he doesn't know where to go to get it renewed. We have no organization of 
our own to back him. If the fence is to be fixed or the house is to be painted, and a 
year from that date the mortgage is due, and he has $500 in the bank, he will not 
paint his house for the simple reason that, if he did, when the mortgage is due he wiU 
not be able to meet it. He saves, and when the mortgage comes due he has $500, 
$600, or $700 set aside to meet it. 

Frequently Negroes overreach themselves in purchasing property. Charles 
Duke, a Negro, in a pamphlet on Negro housing in Chicago remarked: 

A very harmful result of present tendencies is manifested in the acquisition of homes 
by colored people beyond their social or economic advancement. The economic 
waste in this particular has been especially great. They represent in many cases 
a considerable outlay of capital. The domestic facihties they afford are years beyond 
the needs of the people to whom they are allotted. In many instances it costs a 
small fortune annually to maintain one of these estabUshments, and when this is 
not done the depreciation is both rapid and spectacular. 

There is such lack of hotels and lodging-houses for Negroes, especially for 
single men, that many Negroes have bought or rented houses with the intention 
of paying for them, in part at least, with income from lodgers or boarders. 
Such use leads to overcrowding, with consequent rapid deterioration and 
depreciation. This tendency is accentuated by the fact that the houses 
that Negroes can buy are usually old and deteriorated. 

WhUe new arrivals from the South soon learn that the poorest city tenement 
requires better care than plantation cabins, their carelessness meanwhile 
contributes to the property depreciation of their dwellings and neighborhood. 

There are other factors of depreciation in this district which became active 
after the Negroes came, but for which they were not wholly responsible. One 
was the remodeling of residences for business purposes. While the remodeled 
property may bring larger returns, neighboring residence property declines 
in value. Many fine old dwellings on Michigan Avenue and Grand Boulevard 
have been transformed in recent years into lamp-shade factories, second-hand 
fur shops, and small business houses; and these changes have depreciated 
neighboring property for residence purposes. 

Another factor of depreciation is the city's tolerance of gambling and 
immorality in and near areas of Negro residence. In most cities where Negroes 
are numerous a like tendency appears. Little consideration is given to the 
desire of Negroes to live in untainted districts, and they have not been able 
to make effective protest. 


In 1916 the Chicago Daily News, in a series of articles on the Negroes, 
described some of the disorderly saloons and cabarets in the South State and 
Thirty-fifth streets region, with their vile associations of disreputable whites 
and blacks: 

Other resorts in the district are worse; some are better. These are typical of the 
roistering saloons, a kind which would not be tolerated in any other part of the city 
since the old Twenty-second Street levee was broken up. White proprietors have 
brought them into the district, and many of them are patronized largely by crowds 
from other parts of the city. The resorts are forced on the colored people. Those 
colored families in good circumstances and desiring respectable surroundings move 
away, only to find disorderly saloons traihng after them. 

At 301 East Thirty-seventh Street, on the southeast corner of Forest Avenue, is the 
saloon of C — . With this exception the district is a quiet, respectable residence 
quarter. When it was known that this property was to be used for saloon purposes 
a petition of protest was signed by 300 representative colored men and presented to 
Mayor Harrison. 

At night this saloon is an animated place. Reputable colored families object to 
it chiefly on account of the numbers of disorderly white women who meet colored men 
in its diminutive back room. In the barroom an automatic piano thumps through 
the night until closing hours. On the mirrors are pasted chromos of "September 
Morn" and other poses of nude women. 

Buffet flats and disorderly hotels are adjuncts of the bad saloons. They make a 
better harvest for the police than the saloons. The borderland of a colored residential 
district is the haven for disorderly resorts. Protests of colored residents against the 
painted women in their neighborhood, the midnight honking of automobiles, the 
loud profanity and vulgarity are usually ignored by the poUce. 

In one block between South State and South Dearborn streets which was can- 
vassed by the Daily News, five places were found openly admitted to be disorderly 
houses. Some were in flat buildings, the other tenants of which apparently were 
respectable, some raising families of children. 

Many white owners of real estate who speak in horrified whispers of vice dangers 
view such dangers with complacency when these are thrust among colored families. 
Two years ago a woman of the underworld and her gambler husband decided to open 
a " high-class " resort on the South Side. She got a location as a neighbor of reputable 
colored people by purchasing the home of a former alderman and leader in a church, 
the one of which the Rev. John P. Brushingham, secretary of Mayor Thompson's 
Morals Commission, is the pastor. The woman was one of the most notorious of 
the demimonde. An oil painting of her, as she was before her husband in a fit of 
jealousy bit off a part of her nose, for years himg in a saloon of international reputation. 

These are some of the influences which the colored population is forced to combat 
in its fight for decency and good citizenship. A few secure poKtical preferment and 
others profit by catering to the city's vices, while the rank and file are hedged around 
by demoralizing influences and the race is discredited unjustly. 

Another chapter of this series dealt with gambling in the South Side 
district. Here are two excerpts: 


(Note pavement and smoke) 
Classified in text as "Type C" 

Classified in text as "Type D" 


Colored men are in active control of the gambling situation in the big part of their 
district in the second ward. Back of them are white police officials at one end of the 
line and white politicians who keep them in power at the other end of the line. When 
second ward, and even some adjacent ward, gambling is discussed by gamblers on 
the inside, certain colored men are always mentioned. They are called "the syndi- 
cate," and their approval is said to be necessary if the police are to let anybody run 
in the ward. 

Whether gambling is a more dangerous cause of demoralization of a community 
than are disorderly saloons, buffet flats and dissolute women is an often discussed 
question. Gambling is a man's game, is more open, and the connection between it, 
the police, and politics easier to trace. In order to gamble the police must be evaded, 
which is difficult, or made blind by a pecuHar remedy for itching palms or by orders 
from political powers that be. However, it usually is the same police and the same 
politicians who are protecting both classes of vice. 

The contamination of these influences depreciates property and casts a 
blight upon all who live within their unrestricted range. The taint extends 
beyond the blocks in which they exist and serves to promote prejudice and 
ill feeling against the Negroes who are the unwilling sufferers from these 
vicious resorts. 

There are many landlords who exact high rentals from Negroes for the 
use of run-down houses. All investigations of Negro housing on the South 
Side indicated that as a rule the rents are excessive, considering the inferior 
dwellings, their disrepair, and unsanitary conditions. This neglect by the 
landlords not only directly depreciates the property but encourages a careless 
use of it by tenants that leads to the same end. One can hardly expect tenants 
to respect property that is not respected by its owners. 

Owners and agents of property occupied by Negroes differ in their opinions 
of Negroes as tenants and in their ways of handling them. Of course there are 
differences in character, standing, and responsibility among Negroes as among 
whites, and this fact partly explains the following differences of opinion 
expressed by experienced real estate men: 

One real estate firm, on Indiana Avenue, that makes leases to both white and 
Negro clients, said that property occupied by Negroes was more likely to run down. 
Another firm on East Fifty-first Street reported that it rented to Negroes on regular 
leases and had no trouble about collections. A young Negro real estate agent on 
Indiana Avenue said that he had no difficulty with collections: about half of his 
tenants came to the office, and collectors called upon the other half. When a building 
supports a janitor, he said, there is no trouble about repairs, but if the responsibility 
is upon the tenants it is difficult to keep a building in repair. The office manager 
for a firm on Cottage Grove Avenue said that the majority of its Negro tenants are 
on leases; all pay the rent at the office; if they fall in arrears collectors are sent. 

A firm which for many years has conducted a real estate business on the South 
Side reported that 75 per cent of its Negro tenants are on a month-to-month basis 
with thirty days' notice to terminate; and 95 per cent of them are north of Thirty 


ninth Street. A firm on Indiana Avenue requires its tenants to sign leases; and in 
districts where there is much shifting about, or where the property is for sale, a sixty 
days' notice clause is inserted. It usually sends a collector, so that proper super- 
vision may be kept of the property. Its head expressed the opinion that Negroes are 
just as good tenants as whites whose wages are on about the same scale. 

The office manager of an owner with about 1,400 Negro tenants said that on the 
whole they compared very favorably with the white tenants who preceded them; 
while some Negroes are careless and ignorant, they all paid their rent promptly; his 
office did not average one eviction a month, and when Negroes are evicted they rarely 
cause trouble. Quite the contrary was the report of the office manager of a real 
estate firm on East Thirty-first Street, which does an extensive business with Negroes. 
Much depreciation, he said, can be attributed to Negro tenants; they are much harder 
on houses than white tenants of the same station in life; they do not take proper care 
of the furnaces or plumbing, and the higher rents paid by them merely cover the cost 
of the additional repairs; the recent comers pay their rent promptly when they have 
brought money with them or when they receive good wages, but later on become diffi- 
cult to manage because they find it hard to adjust themselves to city life. 

A firm on East Forty-seventh Street reported that it has a large number of Negro 
tenants, makes leases to them, has no difficulty in collecting rents, and considers 
them more desirable than the whites who preceded them; a firm on Indiana Avenue 
expressed the opinion that depreciation is very great in houses rented to Negroes. 
That Negro tenants pay their rent promptly was the experience of a real estate agent 
on Cottage Grove Avenue. He has many Negro tenants on leases and is well satis- 
fied with them, although he does not think they take as good care of the property 
as do the whites; Negroes are usually occupants of old buildings, which are more 
difficult to take care of. 

Another real estate dealer on Cottage Grove Avenue who leases to Negroes finds 
that usually they adhere to the terms of the lease, although they sometimes move 
without notice. A dealer on Wabash Avenue, who rents flats to Negroes, said 
that he looked up the housing record of Negroes carefully before letting them in, yet 
he sometimes had trouble with them. Once he rented a flat to a mother and daughter, 
and the next day he found another family living in it; but on the whole he was well 
satisfied to have Negroes as tenants. 

A prominent official of the Grand Boulevard district of the Kenwood and Hyde 
Park Property Owners' Association, which seeks to keep Negroes out of Hyde Park, 
stated that a fundamental fault in connection with the strained relations between 
whites and Negroes was the failure of white owners to keep their property in good 
condition so that it might be occupied "efficiently," that is, by white persons. 
Another official of that organization said that Negro tenants could not be expected 
to repair white men's property; that there are a great many dwellings in the South 
Side Negro district that ought to be condemned by the city health department, 
and that Negroes are compelled to live in them because they can get nothing better. 

In analyzing responsibility for depreciation, in the area from Thirty-first 
to Thirty-ninth Street and from State Street to the lake, it is difficult to deter- 
mine to just what extent the Negroes are there because of prior depreciation, 
and to what extent present depreciation is due to their presence. It is certain, 


however, that a large part of the depreciation is not justly chargeable to them, 
and that their contribution is attributable partly to their economic status and 
partly to the deep-seated prejudice against them. There are many instances in 
which property occupied by them has appreciated in value. This will always be 
true when the use by Negroes, or the demand for such use, is higher or greater 
than any other use or demand. A symptom of the general prejudice is the 
very prevalent belief that if Negroes have once occupied property its value is 
thereby "destroyed" for white persons. This is true only until it has a value 
for use by whites greater than its value for use by Negroes. So long and only 
so long as Negroes as a class are, or are generally deemed to be, at the bottom 
of the economic scale will their presence in a neighborhood depreciate values. 
At present the fact stands out that Negro occupancy is an unmistakable 
symptom of depreciation — an indication that the value of property has fallen 
to their economic level, as well as an aid to depreciation in its last stages. 


The area bounded by Thirty-ninth and Fifty-fifth streets and Michigan and 
Cottage Grove avenues has several property owners' protective associations 
for the purpose of preserving property values. Their dominant interest has 
been the exclusion of Negroes because these associated property owners 
believe that Negroes always depreciate the values of real estate. Negroes 
have moved into the neighborhood and there has been depreciation. Therefore 
Negroes are the cause. 

A complete understanding of the situation requires that it be determined 
to what extent property values decreased because Negroes moved in, and to 
what extent Negroes moved in because property values had decreased. There 
is no doubt that the thousands of protests against the "invasion" of Negroes 
were sincere. It is also true that scarcely ten Negroes now living there could 
have purchased their properties at the original prices. 

A leading real estate dealer said that "when a Negro moves into a block 
the value of the properties on both sides of the street is depreciated all the 
way from $100,000 to $500,000, depending upon the value of the property in 
the block"; that it was a fact and that there was no escaping it. 

It's a condition that is inherent in the human race a man will not buy a 

piece of property or put his money in or invest in it where he knows that he is liable 
to be confronted the next day or the next year or even five years hence with the 
problem of having colored people living alongside of his investment. This deprecia- 
tion runs all the way from 30 to 60 per cent. Some time ago a survey was made as a 
result of which it was estimated that the influx of Negroes into white neighborhoods 
during the last two years had depreciated property on the South Side about 

He cited as evidences of this the increased difficulty of negotiating loans on 
South Side realty on any terms, and the fact that some loan companies refused 
to write them at all, and loan values there had dropped enormously. 


The Grand Boulevard district of the Kenwood and Hyde Park Property 
Owners' Association reported an even larger estimate of the depreciation 
caused by the coming of Negroes into property near that boulevard. A 
committee of the Association in a report made early in 1920 claimed that the 
coming of Negro owners and tenants into that territory had depreciated 
property values of $400,000,000 fully 50 per cent. 

The advent of the first Negro families in a white district usually creates 
something like a panic. The white residents, in a great many instances, 
fearing contiguity with Negroes and property loss, hasten to offer their property 
for sale and move elsewhere. Even a threat that Negroes intend to occupy 
a certain block or neighborhood will cause an exodus of white people, and their 
property is customarily sold at a sacrifice. When many properties are thus 
thrown on the market low prices are the certain result. 

When in recent years, Negroes moved into the Hyde Park district, ani- 
mosity was aroused, and numerous bombings of property occupied by Negroes 
followed. One of the oldest South Side real estate dealers, quoted in the 
Daily News' series of articles in the summer of 1919, expressed the tense 
feeling of an association there that was seeking methods to drive out and keep 
out the Negroes: 

We want to be fair. We want to do what is right, but these people will have to 
be more or less pacified. At a conference where their representatives were present I 
told them we might as well be frank about it, "You people are not admitted to our 
society," I said. Personally I have no prejudice against them. I have had experi- 
ence of many years dealing with them, and I'll say this for them: I have never had 
to foreclose a mortgage on one of them. They have been clean in every way and 
always prompt in their pajonents. But, you know, improvements are coming along 
the lake shore, the Illinois Central, and all that; we can't have these people coming 
over here. Not one cent has been appropriated by our organization for bombing 
or anything Uke that. 

They injure our investments. They hurt our values. I couldn't say how many 
have moved in, but there's at least a hundred blocks that are tainted. We are not 
making any threat, but we do say that something must be done. Of course, if they 
come in as tenants, we can handle the situation fairly easUy, but when they get a 
deed, that's another matter. 

This fear of Negro neighbors has been used by some real estate agents in 
promoting speculative schemes. By sending a Negro to inquire about property, 
they alarm the neighbors so that they will consider offers of purchase much 
below the normal prices. When the excitement has abated values rise again, 
and a profit is made. 

In the actual depreciation of Hyde Park property there were several 
factors, usually overlooked, that were in no wise attributable to the presence 
of Negroes. Some of Chicago's finest residences were located on Michigan 
Avenue and Grand Boulevard south of Thirty-ninth Street. This was an 
extension of the early fashionable South Side district and had residences that 


cost $350,000. But as in the case of the earUer South Side the neighborhood 
long since had lost some of its first settlers and had begun to decline. The 
World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, was near the Hyde 
Park neighborhood. To accommodate the millions of visitors at the Exposi- 
tion hotels and apartment houses were built in that district far in excess of 
the normal need. The apartment houses, moreover, affected the exclusiveness 
of the residence streets. The buildings were speculations. Large sums were 
expended in the hope of immediate exceptional profits. Property on Sixty- 
third Street sold at the Exposition time for three times the price it could 
command today. This is typical of the speculative values that then prevailed 
there. After the Exposition the removal of the first residents to the North 
Side and to suburbs steadily increased. 

The abnormal years just preceding the Exposition had brought in thousands 
of workmen, who were thrown out of work when the Exposition buildings were 
finished. This and the panic of 1893 made building costs very low and caused 
further construction of dwellings in that district. Mr. L. M. Smith, a promi- 
nent South Side real estate man, described this change at a meeting of the 
Kenwood and Hyde Park Property Owners' Association: 

The condition that existed after the World's Fair, if you will remember, in the 
material yards and the labor market was this: Every yard was loaded up, and the 
carpenters and the mechanics that were stranded here after the World's Fair were 
glad to take jobs as janitors at $25 a month, in order that they could have good warm 
places for their families, and buildings that were put up three and four years after 
the Fair, along in 1894, 1895, and 1896, could be built at about 30 per cent cheaper 
than those that were put up during the World's Fair. The consequences were that 
you could rent a flat cheaper in a brand-new modern building than you could in a 
building that was put up during the World's Fair, and as the older buildings could not 
be rented, the owners finally had to come down in their rent more and more; they 
got in less and less desirable tenants until finally the whole territory became unde- 

These first "undesirables" were not Negroes, for Negroes had not then 
moved across State Street. And there were other causes for the vacancies 
and removals that admitted Hyde Park's first undesirables beside the over- 
building. One was the proxunity of the Stock Yards. Since the South 
Siders could not have the Stock Yards moved, many of them moved themselves. 
The railroads along the lake front, with their cmders, smoke, and noise, were 
also a factor. Another was the creeping in of industrial plants that located 
in and near the district, frequently in the face of protests. A striking instance 
of this is the large assembly plant of an automobile company at Thirty-ninth 
Street and Michigan Avenue. During recent years the automobile industry 
has practically taken control of Michigan Avenue, once the most beautiful 
street of the South Side. 

The coming of apartment houses and boarding-houses was another signal 
of declining values. It was shown that for twenty-five years scarcely a new 


residence had been built on Grand Boulevard, once noted for its handsome 
residences — due principally to the extensive building of apartment houses 

Racial prejudice other than that against Negroes has operated in many 
instances to depress property values. The presence of Jews, Germans, Irish, 
Italians, and Swedes has at times been objectionable to neighborhoods of 
Americans or of another race. A leader in the movement to remove Negroes 
from the Grand Boulevard area gave evidence of this, saying: "I know the 
Irish killed a certain boulevard. I know the Jews hurt another one, and I 
know the gambling element hurt another one." 

On the South Side the Negroes were preceded by Irish. The original 
settlers in the area around Thirty-first and Dearborn streets were mainly 
Irish laborers who worked in the lumber yards and mills, the Stock Yards, 
and other South Side industries. When they moved westward among their 
own people, thirty-five years ago, the Negroes took their places. 

Sometimes social or sentimental values are involved in the depreciation 
brought about when a new race or nationality breaks down the exclusiveness 
of a residence district. After the Exposition, for example, when wealthy 
residents of Michigan Avenue, and Grand and Drexel boulevards deserted their 
houses for more fashionable locations, many of them were bought by Jews. 
This operated to depreciate adjacent property in the opinion of those who dis- 
liked Jews as neighbors. 

How the changes take place was well described by an experienced real 
estate man: The original famihes have divided up and moved away; sons 
and daughters have married; the servant problem has become acute, making 
it difficult to maintain large houses; thus apartment houses have become 
popular; houses are older and deteriorated, apartments are new and modern. 
In 1 91 5 when the number of apartments for rent was in excess of the demand, 
a tenant would spend $25 or $30 in order to move into an apartment across 
the street merely because it happened to be fitted with glass door knobs; a 
high-class residence at Forrestville Avenue and Forty-fifth Street was sold 
twenty years ago for $12,000; yet he told the purchasers ten years ago that the 
property would not sell for more than $4,000 to $6,000; and that was before 
Negroes had moved into the neighborhood. Apartments in that vicinity 
still command a price approaching their original cost of building, because the 
demand for them is stronger than for houses. 

This real estate man made the broad statement that the depreciation has 
taken effect, in the majority of cases, before a Negro family has moved into a 
neighborhood. There is depreciation, he thought, due to prejudice, when a 
Negro family moves into a good neighborhood that has been exclusively white, 
but that there are very few such instances for the reason that Negroes prefer 
to live where they are welcome, where there is no antagonism. With regard 
to the district between Thirty-ninth and Fifty-fifth streets, State Street and 


Cottage Grove Avenue, he stated that the entrance of the Negro had not 
appreciably affected values. 

Another real estate dealer, experienced in South Side property and in 
selling to Negroes, expressed similar opinions. The greatest depreciation, he 
felt, was in the expensive residences, and he doubted whether property as a 
whole in the square mile centered at State and Thirty-fifth streets had been 
depreciated much if at all. 

There was agreement among the authorities consulted that in an exclusive 
neighborhood of wealthy residents marked depreciation in large residences 
has taken place, followed by the introduction of apartment buildings. One 
of the men who had earnestly opposed Negro entrance into the Grand Boulevard 
district recalled when valuations on Grand and Drexel boulevards were from 
$400 to $600 a front foot; then they fell to $125 or $150 a foot; and then gradu- 
ally chmbed back to $175 or $200 a foot on account of the introduction of 
apartment buildings. 

Such variations in value are the usual accompaniment of unguided growth 
in a large city. This unguided development brought depreciation, which was 
manifest before Negroes began to make their appearance in the area. 

The spread of clandestine prostitution, discussed in connection with the 
area north of Thirty-ninth Street, did not stop at Thirty-ninth Street. As the 
environment maps indicate,^ there was a noticeable increase from 1916 to 
1918 in the number of houses or flats used by prostitutes in the area south of 
Thirty-ninth Street. These changes occurred before the spread of the Negro 
population reached the neighborhood. Two houses, for example, at 4404 
and 4406 Grand Boulevard, bought by a Negro woman and bombed four times 
after she moved in, had been occupied by prostitutes just prior to her purchase. 
The coming of Negroes. — In 1916 hundreds of buildings in the Hyde Park 
area stood vacant and had been so for some time. Owners and real estate 
men were offering large concessions in the effort to get tenants. Values had 
fallen greatly. A prominent real estate man closely in touch with the neighbor- 
hood estimated that 25 per cent of the buildings there were vacant, and that 
there was little prospect of renting or selling them. Coincident with this 
oversupply in Hyde Park was an acute demand among Negroes for houses, 
intensified by the sudden addition of about 50,000 migrants. Many of them 
had sold their property in the South and brought the money with them. Hyde 
Park landlords were willing to sell or rent to them rather than lose their property 
entirely. Many Negroes, however, instead of renting, purchased the properties 
because of the exceptional terms offered. 

This continued for about two years, when a demand for houses again arose 
among the white population. There was inactivity in building throughout the 
war period. Chicago was sharing in the housing shortage which affected the 
whole country, which was estimated in the early part of 192 1 at 50,000 houses. 

'See pp. 342 and 346. 


As the demand of whites for housing became acute, Hyde Park owners began 
to feel that their property was at a disadvantage due to the presence of 

Plans for beautifying the lake front and improving Hyde Park were 
emphasized as a reason for holding on to property there. Alderman Schwartz, 
in addressing a meeting of the Grand Boulevard district of the Kenwood and 
Hyde Park Property Owners' Association, said: 

The South Side, and Hyde Park and Kenwood in particular, in past years has been 
the choice residential section of Chicago, the show place of Chicago. Grand Boule- 
vard is the most magnificent street in the world, the finest boulevard of our wonderful 
boulevard system. I know that for many, many years, in this town, it was the 
ambition of people hving in other parts of the city to arrange matters so that they 
could have their homes on the South Side in the place where you now live. 

We have seen the rapid deterioration. In the council and in the committees we 
have decided that we must do something. The law has some very definite limitations 
written into our constitution and statutes. It cannot aflford any relief. You your- 
selves must resurrect the South Side. 

As one instance of what we attempted to do in the way of assuring to the people 
who reside here that the South Side can and will continue to be the great place we live 
in, we passed the Lake Front Ordinance. You people probably never realized what 
a wonderful thing that will be for the South Side. It will take in the lake front from 
Twelfth Street south to Fifty-first; it wiU affect the very choicest residential district 
in Chicago, the territory between Thirty-ninth Street and Forty-seventh Street — 
in this portion of the ward where we now are, something Uke $125,000,000 will be 
expended in reclaiming the lake front for you people, you men and women who must 
stand together to save your homes, see that your homes are kept as fine places to 
live in, that your neighbors are kept the most desirable neighbors in the city of Chicago, 
so that you may enjoy the benefit of that wonderful improvement that is to come. 
Think of that tremendous stretch, from Thirty-ninth to Forty-seventh, of bathing 
facilities, the finest in the world. More than a year and a half ago an estimate was 
made of the loss in property values in the Oakland district, north of Forty-third 
Street, and that was estimated to be $100,000,000. Now it is not only the loss of 
money that interests us. It means not only that somebody has lost a certain amount 
of wealth, but it means that somebody has lost comfort in hving; someone has lost 
joy in his home; someone has lost the opportunity to give his children the environ- 
ment that he wanted to give. 

A survey made by the Hyde Park Property Owners' Association in 1920 
showed that there were then 3,300 property owners in the area bounded by 
Thirty-ninth and Fifty-fifth streets, Michigan Avenue and Cottage Grove 
Avenue, and that of this number i ,000 were Negroes. Then began the attempts 
to move Negroes' back into "their own neighborhood." 

Many of the Negroes who moved into this area had substantial resources 
enabling them either to buy property outright or so to arrange for payments 
through instalments and mortgages as to render themselves secure against 

' See "Contested Neighborhoods," p. 116. 


efforts to remove them. But in so doing they further complicated the status 
of the neighborhood. Few white persons recognize the marked differences 
among Negroes, so that in purely commercial dealings they are not as careful 
in selecting Negro tenants as they would be among whites. As a result some 
Negroes who secured property there proved damaging to property values, just 
as would persons of a similar type from any other race. 

Many of the houses for sale or rent were not suited to the incomes of 
ordinary wage-earners. White persons whose incomes were sufficient to pay 
the rental for such large houses preferred a different sort of house or neighbor- 
hood; and whites of smaller incomes could find more suitable houses elsewhere; 
while Negroes, hard pressed for houses, rented them, and took lodgers to fill 
them and help pay the rent. 

The exclusive occupancy of a block by Negroes is usually followed by less 
care of streets and alleys. This neglect is general between Twenty-second 
and Thirty-nmth streets and is beginning to appear in the territory between 
Thirty-ninth and Forty-third streets where recently blocks have been " turned 
over" to Negroes. Community associations are being formed in some of 
these areas to protest agamst this laxity, and stimulate neighborhood interest 
in neat premises. 

Appreciation of property. — When values fall extremely due to a selling 
panic among white owners, it is often followed by a decided recovery as the 
Negro demand grows. Such a new market among Negroes, however, seems never 
to have been strong enough to send prices for residence purposes back to origi- 
nal levels. But many instances have shown that prices rarely stay at the 
low "panic" level and frequently rebound to a level much above that at which 
panic sales were made. Mr. Gates, a prominent South Side real estate dealer, 
said: "If a Negro family locates in a street where the population is all white, 
values are cut in two, but this would not be likely to occur if a large number 
of Negroes were ready and willing to buy adjacent property at established 
prices. Supply and demand would rule in such a market." Other real 
estate dealers expressed the opinion that "if the white owners were not over- 
anxious to sell when the Negro 'invasion' begins, they might later on obtain 
as much or more for their property than they could have obtained before the 
advent of the Negroes." 

In numerous cases Negroes created a market for property when there was 
none. A prominent white business man long resident on the South Side told 
of a row of houses on South Park Avenue and Grand Boulevard that were 
vacant for years until sold or rented to Negroes: they could not be sold at 
all until they took on a value because Negroes were ready to buy them. 

A prominent Negro physician bought a piece of property in an exclusive 
white Hyde Park neighborhood. He lived there seven years and then sold 
the property at an advance, and, to his knowledge, there had been no deprecia- 
tion in adjacent property. 


A white real estate dealer bought a house in Grand Boulevard between 
Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth streets about five years ago. When Negro 
residents came some of the white people sold at a sacrifice. But he remained 
and four years later sold the property for $2,000 above its cost to him. 

An interesting instance related to property on Langley Avenue into which 
a Negro family moved in 1919. The value of contiguous property remained 
the same as of property two and three blocks east where no Negroes lived. 
Six months later, across the street from this Negro family, a white man, 
aware of their occupancy, bought a house and paid $1,500 more than it had 
formerly been oflfered for. 

Thus, notwithstanding the prejudice against Negro neighbors that usually 
obtains, a block or neighborhood into which Negroes move is not always and 
necessarily depreciated, so many and active are the other factors contributing 
to depreciation (or sometimes preventing) ; and so frequently has it occurred 
that these factors of depreciation have operated extensively prior to the arrival 
of Negroes. 

The fluctuation of values in response to sentiment, both inherent and 
stimulated, manifested itself in a practice of certain real estate dealers on the 
South Side. Although it was stated and believed that values were irrevocably 
destroyed when a Negro family occupied a building, these agents boosted values 
by announcing that another building had been "saved" or "redeemed," 
thoroughly renovated, and restored to its "rightful occupants." The Kenwood 
and Hyde Park Property Owners' Association stated that this plan had 
succeeded in sixty-eight instances of buildings "reclaimed" by the Association, 

A Prairie Avenue block. — To study the processes and factors of depreciation 
the Commission selected an obviously depreciated block on the once fashionable 
Prairie Avenue, between Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth streets, into which no 
Negroes had yet moved. 

In 1885-90 Prairie Avenue was one of Chicago's most fashionable and 
exclusive residential streets. Imposing brown- and gray-stone residences, 
with balconies of stone and ornamental iron, broad bay-windows, and large 
well-kept lawns behind high iron fences, gave evidence of the wealth and social 
position of their owners. 

The gradual decline of Prairie Avenue, as North Side and North Shore 
neighborhoods became more fashionable places of residence, and long before 
the approach of Negroes was even thought of, was exemplified in this block. 
Chicago Blue Book, a broadly inclusive social directory, published annually, 
shows that in 1890 the families living at forty-nine of the sixty-one addresses 
in the block were listed; in 1900 there were eighteen of the forty-nine left; 
in 1910 there were only ten, and in 1915 only two. Second and third occupants 
of the houses took the places of fifteen of the original forty-nine in 1900, of 
nine m 1910, and of four in 191 5. The Blue Book listings at five-year intervals 
are shown in the table on the following page. 


WOOD H0U5E5- P; J 




/Va/,4/y^ /!t//!f/i/£. 

Px/iiie/i: /Jf/^ffi/c 



^ Ll ..,1 u ^ 



11] i: 



/w<r TO A. y 


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C^^.L^/'fcr .^y^A'i/^ 

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From 1895 on, those who moved away were to be found scattered all the 
way from Lake Shore Drive to Lake Forest. The newcomers who took 
their places appeared decreasingly in the Blue Book and more and more fre- 
quently they had Irish or Jewish names. 

A closer examination of the changing occupancy of the sixty-one houses 
in the block shows strikingly the rapidity and extent of the decline and reveals 
some of its causes. 



Number of Houses 
Listed with no 
Change in Occu- 

Number of Houses 
Not Listed 

Number of Houses 
with Second and 
Third Occupants 














The residents. — In a house with fifty feet frontage on Prairie Avenue lived 
a wealthy artist, son of a Chicago pioneer merchant and member of several 
exclusive clubs. He lived there until a large brick factory was erected at the 
rear of his residence which is now occupied by a medical fraternity. A promi- 
nent Chicago family lived in another house which they had built in 1885. 
In 1890, they moved to Cleveland and rented the property. For sentimental 
reasons they kept the property, although it was fast sinking in value. In 1919 
a son living in Lake Forest proposed to remodel and improve the property, 
if by reasonable expenditures he could be assured by real estate men of "desir- 
able" tenants. No real estate man felt able to do this, however, and the 
deterioration and depreciation were uninterrupted. 

Another residence, formerly occupied by a capitalist and journalist since 
1890, was a large two-story house with basement and attic and two-story brick 
barn. The family long since moved to the North Side, and the old mansion on 
Prairie Avenue is now a rooming-house of thirty-eight rooms, including the 

At another address lived the president of a large business corporation, 
in a two-story stone-front building. It is now cut up into flats; and in the 
window recently was a sign: "4th Flat for Rent, 6 Rooms, $20.00, White Only." 

Only one or two of the fine old residences in this block are still occupied 
by Chicago's "first families" or owned by their estates. 

There are now two relatively modern three- and four-story brick apartment 
buildings in the block, and five old residences are rooming-houses. One is a 
club for railroad men, and another is a fraternity house. About a third of the 
places are in fairly good repair. 


The altered character of the block is revealed also in the number of persons 
now at each address. The polling lists for March, 1920, disclose that fourteen 
persons are registered from one address, ten from another, seven from another, 
sLx each from three others, and so on, indicating more adults than are usually 
found in a single family. These are probably roomers. 

The problem, however, is a complex one, for, although no Negroes moved 
into this block, they occupied parts of neighboring blocks during that period, 
and their occupancy contributed to the final stage of depreciation. 

The picture in neighboring Calumet Avenue is not essentially different; 
perhaps the early occupants represented fewer of the "first families," and the 
deterioration is more obvious. 

The evidences of the oncoming of commerce and industry from the north 
are numerous and inescapable. In this and adjoining blocks are now garages, 
an auto-repairing shop, the South Side Dispensary of the Municipal Tubercu- 
losis Sanitarium, a factory for grinding bearings, and a carpentry and glazing 
shop. An auto-laundry occupies the old church building. 

This area is a comparatively short distance from the "Loop." In real 
estate parlance it is known as "close-in" property. A former president of 
the Chicago Real Estate Board stated that a large part of this "close-in" 
property depreciated because of its change from residential to commercial 
property. He mentioned Prairie and Calumet avenues, north of Thirty-first 
Street — which includes the block studied. The depreciation, he asserted, was 
also due to the "departure of many owners of costly homes to other districts." 

With the city's growth, transportation became an increasingly influential 
factor. The automobile made it easy to reach the business center from 
outlying and suburban regions. It thus became less desirable to live near the 
"Loop," particularly as such districts are susceptible to changes that may 
quickly destroy an exclusive residence district. 

The rapidly developing automobile industry gravitated very largely to 
this part of the South Side. Its salesrooms, shops for the sale of accessories, 
and kindred business places spread along Michigan Avenue from Twelfth to 
Thirty-fifth street. Michigan Avenue is only two blocks west of Prairie 
Avenue and one block west of Indiana Avenue. Garages, repair shops, 
welding factories, and the like accompanied this invasion, and spread into 
adjoining streets. For instance, on an Indiana Avenue comer a large eight- 
story factory was built immediately adjoining the rear of a handsome Prairie 
Avenue residence, and a one and one-half story garage and repair shop was 
built in the rear of 2900 Prairie Avenue. Just northeast of the block are 
factories and breweries with their noise, smoke, and heavy traffic; and from 
the west and south Negroes have recently been approaching— long after these 
other factors were operating. 

A peculiar fact about the property in this block and northward on Prairie 
Avenue is that the lots are long and narrow, and the houses are built to the 


side lines. These lots, when threatened with encroachment by factories and 
the automobile industry, lost their residence value but did not easily take on 
a new industrial value because they were individually owned and it required 
several lots to make a suitable industrial site. The owners, though not desiring 
to live there, were yet loath to sell as cheaply as the individual strip sales would 
make necessary. And no investor would buy a single lot for industrial pur- 
poses unless certain of getting two or three others adjoining. 

In 1 9 10 land values on Prairie Avenue between Twenty-sixth and Twenty- 
eighth streets were $250 a front foot; and from Twenty-ninth to Thirtieth 
streets, $200; on Indiana Avenue between Twenty-sixth and Twenty-eighth 
streets, $200, and between Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth streets $175. In 1920, 
however, values had dropped on Prairie Avenue to $60 a front foot while on 
Indiana Avenue, a semi-business street, they were $150 and $180.' Negroes 
first moved into the block on Prairie Avenue between Thirtieth and Thirty- 
first streets about 191 7, though very few lived there at the time of the inquiry 
in 1920. In 1919 they purchased an abandoned church in this block which 
at one time was valued at $125,000. 

To summarize the results of this investigation of depreciation: Negro 
occupancy depreciates the value of residence property in Chicago because of 
the prejudice of white people against Negroes, and because white people will 
not buy and Negroes are not financially able to buy, at fair market prices 
property thrown upon the market when a neighborhood commences to 
change from white to Negro occupancy; nevertheless a large part of the 
depreciation of residence property often charged to Negro occupancy comes 
from entirely different causes. 



An important factor in the housing problem is the low security rating 
given by real estate loan concerns to property tenanted by Negroes. Because 
of this Negroes are charged more than white people for loans, find it more 
difficult to secure them, and thus are greatly handicapped in efforts to buy or 
improve property. The general opinion that condemns such property makes 
the risk poor, even for Negroes. A Chicago Trust Company representative said : 

A Negro called to buy a mortgage. Our first thought was to submit to him one 
of the colored loans, which we did. We showed him a photograph; he liked the 
appearance of the building, and then he inquired, "Is this anywhere near the colored 
district ?" He declined the loan on that accoimt, showing that this uneasiness is 
not confined to the white investor. 

When districts become exclusively Negro this reluctance to invest or to 
lend invariably appears. If there are sufficient Negroes with money to create 
» Olcott's "Land Value Maps," 1910 and 1920. 


a market the loss is somewhat relieved. Yet, deprived of the usual facilities 
for purchasing a home, they cannot relieve their housing shortage and are 
forced to seek houses in unfriendly neighborhoods. 

The factors are similar to those in depreciation, often based on prejudices 
and erroneous beliefs concerning Negroes. Whatever depreciates real estate 
necessarily depresses its security value — whether the cause be fact or opinion. 
A South Side bank had difficulty in selling Negro loans to white people because 
" they say they don't keep up the property; they let it deteriorate; they don't 
improve it." The representative of another bank said: 

I don't believe you could find enough colored people who could make a substantial 
first payment. There are a few that I have talked with recently who are on the 
poUce force, who wanted to know how we could help them out in buying places. One 
had in mind the purchase of a three-flat building; the price was around eight or nine 
thousand dollars. There was a first mortgage on it of about five. He had only 
$300 cash to buy it with. 

A former president of the Chicago Real Estate Board said: 

The percentage of Negro people in Chicago who will buy homes is comparatively 
small. The best evidence we have is that 85 per cent of the white people are tenants; 
15 per cent of them are home owners. It follows, I think, that a smaller percentage of 
the colored race will buy homes, not more than from 3 to 5 per cent of the colored 
people at the present time. 

A representative of a very large South Side realty business said : " There are 
ever so many mortgage men not familiar with the colored belt. That's one 
of their greatest reasons for refusing the loans — they are not familiar with the 

Real estate men, white and Negro, were invited to present their views, 
and leading mortgage-loan houses and banks of the city were asked what they 
knew about Negroes as borrowers, investors, tenants, and clients, and their 
thrift and care of property. Their testimony, with the Commission's investi- 
gations, yielded a fairly accurate picture. 


The iirst house in Chicago was a rude cabin built by a Negro in 1790. 
There were several Negro home owners when the city was incorporated in 
1837. The first Negroes to settle near Thirtieth Street — long before the city 
had extended its limits that far — owned their homes. Although prior to 1916 
most Negroes did not own homes, there were many, especially business and 
professional men, who had gradually acquired dwellings. The migration 
brought thousands of Negroes with ready cash who found it easy to buy dwell- 
ings on the South Side. The uncomfortable and inadequate dwellings of the 
"Black Belt" could be avoided only by the purchase of property elsewhere. 
Attention thus was directed, probably for the first time, to the question of home 


buying by Negroes. Indeed home owning is an essential feature of any solu- 
tion of their housing difficulties. 

Until the migration Chicago's Negroes had engaged chiefly in personal- 
service occupations that governed somewhat the location of their homes; 
when these were not in the "Black Belt" they were in shabby property in 
undesirable streets near their employment. Men who worked on dining- and 
sleeping-cars lived near the railroad stations — on State and Dearborn streets, 
Plymouth Place, and the surrounding neighborhood; they were generally 
renters and moved southward with the general trend. 

Home buying stimulated hy high wages and the migration. — The war brought 
wages to the Negroes that seemed fabulous to many; and the wages brought 
the migration. The first migrants were mostly drifters. Then came a great 
many who had acquired considerable substance in the South, and having sold 
out they came to Chicago with ready money, in some instances large amounts. 
This class of Negroes bought dwellings. Several of them bought apartment 
buildings, said a real estate dealer, and in one instance the buyer paid $10,000 
in cash; and there were very many who were able and ready to pay from Si ,000 
to $3,000 on the purchase of a residence in a respectable neighborhood. 
Another dealer said that he was not able to supply the buying demand: 
"We have put renters on the side list; buyers are taking up the time. We 
used to think $500 a good-sized payment for them, but now they often have 
$3,000, $4,000, or $6,000. A Negro customer lately wanted a twelve-flat build- 
ing and would pay cash." 

"The average newcomer is a home-owner," said another realty dealer; 
" he has sold his home in the South to come here. Some say the high wages 
are not attracting them so much as better schools." 

Another dealer said that the average amount per family brought from the 
South was from $300 to $500, and he knew of one family that brought $6,000. 

It was the experience of another firm that three or four years ago Negro 
purchasers paid down about $500, but that now (1920) they frequently make 
first payments of $1,000 or more. 

This sudden wave of home buying impressed Carl Sandburg, who wrote 
(1919) in the Chicago Daily News: 

Twenty years ago fewer than fifty families of the colored race were home owners 
in Chicago. Today they number thousands, their purchases ranging from $200 to 
$20,000, from tar paper shacks in the still district to brownstone and greystone estab- 
lishments with wealthy or well-to-do white neighbors. In most cases, where a colored 
man has investments of more than ordinary size, it is in large part in real estate. 
Realty investment and management seems to be an important field of operation 
among those colored people who acquire substance. 

Several other factors contributed to this house-buying movement. One 
was that Hyde Park had many available houses in the early years of the war, 
while the Negro was excluded from the market west of Wentworth Avenue, 


with its smaller and less expensive houses, by the vigorous antagonism of the 
Irish and other people living there. The southern Negroes were glad to find 
that — at first, anyway — access was not denied them to districts having good 
schools, churches, recreation and amusements, and convenient transportation 
facilities. This feeling was reflected in their purchase of churches; two of 
these, one on Washington Boulevard and one on Prairie Avenue, are in dis- 
tricts of extensive home buying by Negroes. 

The high war wages contributed to home buying. Though in many 
instances they induced extravagant expenditures, a surplus remained for many, 
and with the frugal the savings were large. 

High rents were another primary contribution. Many of the ambitious 
newcomers figured that they could buy a house for about the same monthly 
amounts required for rent. In many instances they thriftily contrived to 
make the property pay for itself. Two- and three-flat buildings would furnish 
a family with a home while providing a considerable revenue from the rented 
flats. When old-fashioned houses too large for one family were bought, 
lodgers and boarders were often taken. Frequently wife and children added to 
the family income so that they might own a home. 

A real estate dealer in Hyde Park said: "The Negro has purchased 
90 per cent of the property where he lives, and 75 per cent of these are 'high- 
class colored men.'" This estimate is too high, but it shows the impression 
made by the large number of Negro home buyers. 

An inquiry in two blocks on Prairie and Forest avenues disclosed that 
40 per cent of the Negroes living on Prairie Avenue were property owners, 
in the intervening block on Thirty-seventh Street over 90 per cent were owners, 
while on Forest Avenue the Negro property owners were few. 

In 1920 the School of Civics canvassed a small area occupied by Negroes in 
the district west of State Street, a district where, because of their low economic 
status, they would not be expected to buy. Of 331 families, thirty, or 10 per 
cent, were owners, and all but one had been owners for from four to twenty 
years, so that they had not been influenced by the migration. 

Of the impression made by the home-buying migrants a very intelligent 
Negro real estate dealer said, referring to the Chicago Negroes: 

I will dare say that 90 per cent or even a greater number did not own their prop- 
erty. They rented. It seems there has been a different spirit instilled into the 
northern colored man. We bow to the southern man because he is a home owner. 
The northern man was satisfied to rent. I was bom in Chicago and felt the same as 
others do. 

The present trend was indicated in these statements of two well-informed 
white real estate dealers on the South Side: "The colored people are demanding 
homes and the tendency is to buy"; and that Negroes were continuing to 
buy homes in the district between Thirty-ninth and Forty-seventh streets, 
Cottage Grove Avenue and State Street, more sales bemg made to Negroes in 


that particular location than in any other. And this has been during a period 
of acute and general housing famine in every large city. 

Methods of purchase. — When Negroes first began to buy dwellings during 
the migration years, the average price was $4,000 to $5,000, and the 
initial payment, usually $500, ranged from $300 to $1,000. The time for 
payment was ordinarily three years, though some contracts were for five 
years. Later on Negroes began to buy houses or apartment buildings running 
as high as $8,000 or $10,000, and the payments were increased proportionately. 

That the Negro assumed a heavy load, sometimes more than he could 
reasonably be expected to carry, was the opinion of several careful observers. 
While the surplus from his wages might be expected to cover the monthly 
payments, money for taxes, repairs, and insurance would have to come from 
the wages of wife or children, or from lodgers. 

In April, 1920, when work at high wages was abundant, a well-informed 
Negro real estate dealer said that any Negro family head could then assume 
payments of from $40 to $55 a month on purchased property. But many 
Negroes made contracts calling for monthly payments of $65 to $75. 

The opinions of experienced persons in close touch with the situation were 
divided as to whether, in making such purchases, Negroes had assumed too 
heavy obligations. One said his long experience showed that Negroes carry 
out what they undertake to do; that very few default on their payments, and 
when Negroes buy on the instalment plan " they pay out better than the whites 
do, as a rule." 

Another said, though Negroes buy only old properties — and generally 
pay more than white people — they are careful in assuming their obligations 
and make their payments promptly. They pay down to the mortgage, in 
from three to five years, and sometimes within two years. 

Another, who has been dealing with Negroes since 1907, gave his opinion 
that they undertake their obligations seriously, and as instalment buyers of 
property they are entirely satisfactory. 

Still another South Side man who sells real estate to Negroes declared that 
he had been getting better payments recently than he did three or four years 
ago; in 191 4, 1915, and 191 6 he suffered considerable loss because of defaults 
in payments on purchases or in rents. 

A former president of the Chicago Real Estate Board remarked that 
Negroes buy but do not build their houses, and are not yet sufficiently numer- 
ous to create a market for real estate; that white people will not buy back 
property once occupied by Negroes; that, as the numbers of Negroes increase, 
this situation might be changed, but that the Negro who tries to sell old prop- 
erty, on which he has put no improvements, will rarely find a buyer, because 
there is so much old property available. 

Certain banks and loan firms thought there would be a general foreclosure 
of mortgages on recently purchased property as they fell due, that the Negroes 


are carrying such heavy payments on their contracts that they cannot reduce 
their mortgages and consequently renewals will be denied; that the Negro has 
not yet acquired sufficient stability to carry on payments over a long term of 
years, and if wage reductions become general they will fall most heavily on 
unskilled workers and render difficult the meeting of payments by such Negroes, 
who constitute the great majority. 

Most of the firms that had dealings with Negroes, whether as buyers, 
borrowers, or renters, expressed satisfaction with their transactions with them. 
Typical of their comments was that of John A. Schmidt, who found Negroes 
to be prompter than Jews in making payments, and of Milton Yondorf , who 
said that Negroes, like the Italians, finish paying for one house before under- 
taking to buy another, and are eager to make the final payment. 

While the preponderance of opinion was that the Negroes do meet their 
payments, it may be that experience is still too limited in Chicago and condi- 
tions have thus far been too abnormal to afford the basis for final judgment and 
future policy. 

The first wave of buying by Negroes was stimulated by both Negro and 
white real estate agents because many dwellings had been unremunerative for 
several years. With the tightening up of the real estate market that ensued, 
Negroes became home hunters, and they are continuing to search. 

There has been a wide variation in the prices paid by Negroes for dwellings. 
For some houses Negroes have undoubtedly paid more than could have been 
obtained from a white purchaser. One dealer's opinion was that the Negroes 
have paid full value. Another said that the Negro never pays higher for 
property unless the price is measured by what has been paid for it by white 
persons of the "fourth class" — referring to property that has descended from 
the original owner through three classes of whites before coming into Negro 
hands. Many purchases during the last two or three years have been made 
direct from the owners. An attempt made by white real estate men to come 
to an agreement regarding sales in new districts — whereby they would turn 
over to Negro agents all inquiries as to blocks where Negroes already Uved, and 
Negro agents would not place Negroes in exclusively white districts — was 


The most formidable stumbling-block in the way of home owning by 
Negroes is the unsalability of their mortgages. Except in a limited field these 
loans have no market. The Negro demand for home property has become 
so large in recent years that the search for it has extended beyond the fringes 
of the main existing districts on the South, West, and North sides into the out- 
lying territory adjoining Negro settlements in Blue Island, Woodlawn, Morgan 
Park, and Robbins. How the Negro is to be financed in his effort to improve 
his citizenship and home life through home ownership thus becomes a matter 
of great concern. 


The Commission sought to learn from banks, trust companies, brokerage 
firms, and similar institutions their experience with Negro clients and property 
and their purpose and plans as to future dealings. To thirty such institutions 
questionnaires were sent, and twenty-three gave careful replies. 

Only a few real estate firms that have a large number of Negro clients 
have funds available for such loans. These meet but a small part of the de- 
mand. The three banks that have large Negro deposits, the Lincoln State, the 
Franklin State, and Jesse Binga's, make such loans when deemed desirable, but 
they seem not a large factor in relieving the loan situation. Many of the 
banks that are depositories for Negroes' funds do not make loans to them, 
giving as their reason that they do not lend on the class of property purchased 
by Negroes. Some of them have no real estate department. Only three 
of the downtown investment bankers make no restrictions regarding Negro 
borrowers that are not common to all; they have dealt with Negro clients for 
many years and have found them entirely satisfactory. Possibly one reason 
for this is that they educate their buyers of mortgages concerning the value of 
these loans; and thus have succeeded, they say, in overcoming many objec- 
tions based upon race prejudice. 

Most large real estate firms and loan companies decline to make loans on 
property owned or occupied by Negroes. With some of them this is a blanket 
provision that covers generally property in changing or depreciated districts. 
Difficulty of disposing of such mortgages is one of the commonest reasons 
given for refusing to handle them. 

Even among the agencies that handle such loans opinion is not unanimous 
on fundamental points involved. The Commission asked several brokers 
representing large interests this question: "Does your experience indicate 
that loans up to 50 per cent of the valuation on property in the residence 
districts from Twenty-sixth to Sktieth streets and from State Street to the lake 
have a safe-and-sound investment value ? " Among those favorable to Negroes 
the answer of Yondorf & Company, a downtown firm, is perhaps typical: 
It is necessary to consider each house separately, as conditions vary widely; 
consideration must be given to future uses of the property, the present condi- 
tion of the improvements, and especially the stability of the person asking for 
the loan. As a general rule, loans on old residence property are not as good 
as those on houses in new districts; on an old house about $1,000 would be 
loaned on a market value of $5,000, whereas m new districts the contractor can 
borrow up to two- thirds of the cost of the house; no conscious discrimination 
is made in the nature of higher rates because a borrower happens to be a Negro; 
careful consideration is given to the margin of safety, and safeguards are 
arranged in the way provided for payments. 

Lionel Bell, another downtown loan broker, regarded this general type of 
mortgages on old residence property as fully secured, and does not hesitate to 
recommend mortgages in the district mentioned. 


John A. Schmidt, who handles a large number of loans on Negro property 
in that district, considers them of high value, though the risks are both physical 
and moral; it is essential to know both the client and the property; the amount 
of the loan asked on Negro property usually is not high as compared with its 
value. No distinction is made as to the color of the borrower, the condition 
and value of the property being the only basis for the loan; loans to Negroes 
are less in amount than to whites, though clients thus far accepted are com- 
monly found satisfactory; the period of payment is about the same, varying 
between three and five years, according to the amount paid monthly, the kind 
of property involved, and so on. The usual range of amounts requested was 
one-third to one-half of the value of the property. 

R. M. O'Brien & Company, an active South Side real estate firm which 
also deals largely in Negro mortgages, found that the average amount loaned 
to Negroes was smaller, and that it is a smaller percentage of the value of the 
property than in the case of loans to whites, and that the average period for 
loans to Negroes was three years. 

Mead & Coe, another real estate firm, found that the Negroes usually are 
allowed $i,ooo to the white man's $1,500; that only 35 per cent of the value 
of the property is loaned to the Negro, whereas 50 per cent is granted to whites. 
Maximum time of loan was five years for the white and three years for the Negro. 

The Chicago Trust Company answered that the same requirements were 
made of white and Negro; the range was from $2,000 to $6,000, limited to 50 
per cent of conservative valuation, and five years. 

In general it was found that property values in the districts where Negroes 
usually buy are affected by more factors than is the property in districts where 
whites usually buy. Where Negroes are buying the majority of white people 
are renting. 

It was sought to find out whether Negroes ask for renewals more often than 
do white borrowers; whether there was any marked difference between Negroes 
and other racial groups in the promptness of making payments, in asking for 
additional tune, in the difficulty of collections, and in compelling foreclosure. 
Comparison of Negroes and whites was found to be difficult because of differ- 
ences between various nationalities as to repaying loans. The Poles pay 
promptly when dealing through loan companies or banks conducted by 
Poles. The Italians are eager to get their property cleared. Jews are likely 
to ask for renewals and to expect the property to pay the mortgage out of 
earnings. The Negroes pay if they can, but sometimes have difficulty because 
they have arranged heavy payments on their contracts; during the period of 
high wages there has been little trouble, but the feeling was that as yet there 
had been no real test. Speaking generally, a representative of Yondorf & 
Company said it was estimated that only about 25 per cent of working people 
are thrifty and save anything; 75 per cent save nothing; and that proportion 
holds true of the Negroes. 


Firms that deal with Negroes ask for no larger reduction when a Negro 
renews his loan, they say, than when a white person renews if the character of 
the property is the same. The facts as to the reliability, character, and stand- 
ing of the borrower are established when the loan is first made. Negroes buy 
old properties where deterioration is rapid, and when the renewal is asked the 
value of the property has fallen in proportion. White persons do not buy the 
same class of property. So it is necessary to ask the Negro to reduce his 
mortgage considerably, except when his property is in a location of newer 
houses, such as Morgan Park or Woodlawn. 

Difficulty is experienced by mortgage bankers and brokers in selling Negro 
mortgages to white clients. Yondorf & Company declared that while their 
old clients would buy regardless of the color of the borrower, others had to be 
convinced of the value of the property and of the earning power and stability 
of the Negro borrower. The Negro mortgages are usually for smaller amounts 
and hence within the reach of small investors. When white investors find 
that Negroes' loans are promptly paid they continue to buy such securities. 

Lionel Bell reported some difficulty in selling Negro mortgages to white 
clients, though he generally succeeded, by showing their value and by inspec- 
tion, that the Negroes were keeping their houses in good condition as to both 
sanitation and repair. 

E. A. Cummings & Company have difficulty in selling such mortgages 
because many of their clients are out-of-town buyers who are suspicious of 
Negro property. 

E. and S. Lowenstein find no market for such loans; non-resident buyers 
and even local buyers fight shy of Negro property in particular, and property 
in general that is undesirable because of overcrowding and consequent hard usage 

In general, the refusals to buy Negro loans are due to feeling against the 
Negro, a disbelief in the Negro's ability to pay them, and distrust of the old 
properties which Negroes commonly buy. The opinion was general that any- 
thing which would tend to stabilize values on the South Side, especially in 
the lower part of the district occupied by Negroes, would be desirable; that 
improvements such as the widening of South Park Avenue would aid materially. 

Real estate men who have Negroes for clients are finding it advantageous 
to educate them in the meaning of mortgages, in the method of issuing and 
renewing them, and in what is expected of the mortgagor and what the mort- 
gagor may expect. When the Negro is carefully informed of the processes 
involved in financing the purchase of a home, and the terms are thoroughly 
understood, there is much less likelihood of losing his property. Friendly 
real estate men are constantly helping Negroes to carry their mortgages and to 
find means of renewing when that contingency arises. It is helpful also to 
remind Negroes of the necessity of paying their taxes and meeting other obliga- 
tions promptly, and of keeping their property in good condition. Some firms 
stated that the "natural honesty of the Negro and his love of home life" have 


been fostered by thoughtful friends and leaders, as well as by those who have 
business transactions with him. This pays dividends in better citizenship. 

Widening the market for Negro lomis. — The white people need to know the 
obstacles in the path of the Negro who wishes to establish a good home for 
his family and thus improve his citizenship and serve as a good example to 
others of his race. How to finance Negro home buyers is a large dif&culty in 
solving the Negro housing problem. The Commission held a conference 
devoted almost entirely to this topic, at which various experts and authorities 
were consulted. It was sought to ascertain the fundamentals for meeting the 
needs of the future, assuming that the Negro population in Chicago is likely 
to continue in normal growth, and that the demand for adequate housing for 
the Negro population is not likely to lessen for several years. Particular 
attention was given to the question of how a market might be created for the 
Negro's loans. 

An appraiser for the Fort Dearborn National Bank suggested that a system 
involving partial payments represented by $25 bonds paying semiannual 
interest might be helpful. Bonds of such low denominations might, he thought, 
be purchased by Negroes. By such a system Negroes would learn to invest 
their money wisely, and by putting money into substantial securities would 
encourage real estate investments. These securities could be sold by Negro 
bankers and real estate brokers. But he expressed confidence that not a few 
white people would buy bonds of that character. They would be based on 
about 60 per cent of the value of the property. 

One real estate broker averred that success in financing Negro home buyers 
would be contingent upon creating definite districts in any portion of the city 
where the colored men may find it necessary to live in order to be able to reach 
their business or their place of employment, districts to be known as their 
exclusive territory. Then it would be possible to go to a mortgage loan house 
and present a definite case when a mortgage falls due. Knowing that the 
property was that of a Negro, and knowing the district, one would have a 
definite basis for estimating future increase or depreciation of value. It was 
his opinion that white people would support a market of that nature, because 
it would not only protect the colored man and the white man alike but all of 
the property interests of the city. He disclaimed any desire to promote 
segregation. But he maintained that so long as the races mixed, clashes were 
inevitable, and that the problem of selling Negro loans, erecting houses, and 
renewing mortgages would solve itself under this plan, "because white men 
will be very glad to come to the assistance of colored." 

It happens, however, that some subdivisions developed "especially for 
Negroes" present low standards as well as exploitation. One such sub- 
division is called Lilydale. An investigator reported on it as follows: 

Lilydale is on a flat prairie and was laid out as a subdivision for Negro residents 
near the comer of Ninety-fifth and State streets several years ago. It is about five 


blocks square. The developer is a prominent white real estate dealer active in sub- 
division property generally. Another weU-known real estate man, who is also a 
prominent local politician, is interested in establishing a Negro colony on this property. 
The latter is agent for a great deal of property on the South Side tenanted by Negroes. 

Many Negroes purchased lots in LUydale at fairly high prices, considering that 
virtually no improvements had been made to the property. Water has since been 
laid in some of the streets and some of them are suppUed with sewers, but there is 
no paving and no lighting. Sidewalks are few, mud holes many. Yards, streets, 
and alleys are imkempt. 

Those who promoted the subdivision set up the shells of a few houses, mainly of 
the bimgalow type. Most of these were sold and the inside finish was supplied by 
the purchasers. Most of these sale houses, though, remain unfinished. The building 
of houses in Lilydale has been half-hearted, and most of the structures are so poorly 
constructed that they are conspicuously uncomfortable. Some of these were built by 
piecemeal with any kind of waste building material that could be gathered. The 
people in this isolated commimity apparently are making the best of a hopeless situa- 
tion. They express a desire to recover the money they have invested. Provisions 
are obtained from two or three small stores. There is a church in the vicinity, but 
at the time of the investigation no services were being held in it. The children attend 
a branch of the Burnside School, which is conveniently located. The teacher is a 
Negro woman, a graduate of a southern normal school. She reported that there is 
apparently no prejudice between the white and Negro children ; that their only differ- 
ences are those to which all children fall heir. She regards the Negro colony of LUy- 
dale as a bad mistake and would discourage other Negroes from making purchases 
there. She regards the investment there as of doubtful value. 

There is a car line on Ninety-fifth Street which connects with the industries of 
South Chicago, where a mmaber of the men of Lilydale are employed. 

Adding to the loneliness of the general aspect is the fact that most of the surround- 
ing area is stiU what is termed "acreage." 

Pertinent also is the statement of a man who for years has been interested 
in the housing difficulties of Negroes. 

Some people have suggested taking a vacant piece of property and building it up 
for colored occupancy, but there is the biggest hubbub raised when any such attempt 
is made. People complain : "You will ruin this whole neighborhood! You wiU ruin 
the street car line ! Everything out in that neighborhood will be ruined aU along the 
street, because if you build up a colored neighborhood in any one particular location 
nobody else will want to go out that way." So that I have come to the point where 
I say there is no solution. I can't do anything. I'd have been wUling to put in a 
million dollars in property anyivhere where there would have been a chance to get 
5 per cent return on my money. There isn't any use in doing a thing that isn't eco- 
nomically sound. I wanted to bring this up to show that I had given it some thought, 
and that I am very desirous of having somebody make a suggestion that is feasible 
so that something can be done. 

The difficulty of disposing of loans in a district inhabited by Negroes was 
touched upon by a loan expert from the Chicago Trust Company, which handles 


such loans. The trouble, he thought, centers on the character of the 
property and of the district, rather than on the fact that the property happened 
to be owned or occupied by Negroes. He said that even Negro investors 
object to property in such a district for the reason that it is old, little in demand, 
and generally a poor risk. He suggested the possibility of small mortgage 
bond issues with separate notes. This would save the expense of printing the 
bonds, which is considerable at present prices, and the investor would be 
afforded the same security. He also suggested haNong "baby" bonds printed 
in standard form, so that they could be simply filled in, thus saving expense. 

Another real estate broker who had dealt in mortgages of South Side 
Negroes for a number of years declared that the average mortgage buyer seems 
to prefer those on new bimgalows where the margin of security is less than 
that on property in the Negro district. Since the bungalow's cost of construc- 
tion was less, the chance of revenue under adverse circumstances would be 
less. He maintained that a ten- or twelve-room apartment house in the 
Second Ward (South Side) affords a better margin of security than the ordinary 
cheap bungalow, and that it was therefore a question of educating mortgage 
buyers on the question of security. The best evidence on this, he maintained, 
would be the number of foreclosures. He had never had to foreclose with 
Negroes in the fifteen years of his experience. In that time only two contracts 
had been forfeited, both because of disputes between the heirs and the buyers. 
His firm had, however, made new contracts when Ulness or other adverse 
circumstances had halted pa\Tiients, thus allowing the buyers to start over 
again. ]\Ieans had also been taken to see that buyers paid their taxes, in 
which process they had required education. White people must be depended 
upon to buy the Negro's loans. Ver\' few Negroes buy loans. Their tendency, 
he said, is to invest in a home earHer in their career than the white people, and 
they buy as soon as they have accumulated enough to make the initial 

According to a bank appraiser's opinion Negroes do not understand values, 
and they are often led to purchase a building at much more than its worth. 
In consequence the amount of loans they need is much greater than it ought 
to be. He had not foimd, however, that the Negroes allow their property to 
deteriorate unduly. A different situation had been found where white people 
lease to Negroes. 

According to some real estate dealers, there are cases w^here houses are 
allowed to deteriorate, where the pa}Tnent has been larger than the purchaser 
could carr\- conveniently. But "after he has taken care of the payment and 
has his deed, he will give attention to the improvement of the house." Others 
agreed that the Negro mortgage debtor is quite as reliable as a white debtor 
of the same class. 

The president of the Cook County Real Estate Board suggested that one 
means of creating a market for Negro loans would be the passage of the "Home 


Loan Bank Bill." Its pro\-isions are that no loan would be made in excess of 
$5,000, but loans would be made up to 80 per cent of the fair value of the 
property. :\Iany of the loan houses, he declared, do not consider small loans, 
a fact confirmed by the Commission. He cited one house that will not consider 
a loan of less than $500,000. For this reason he suggested that this business 
should be handled by the building and loan associations, since they do business 
on a smaller margin of operating cost and he regarded them as the proper 
media for iinding suitable markets for Negro mortgages. 

Involved in the plan for funding the Negro's loans was the question of 
segregation. It has been mamtamed that not much financing could be expected 
from white people unless boimdaries were allotted to the Negroes, so that 
investors in loans would know definitely what to expect. Opinions, of course, 
differed on segregation. It was admitted that a spreading out of the Negro 
population in Chicago is to be expected, that Negroes can hardly be expected 
to remain in the districts in which they have hitherto \-irtually segregated 
themselves. But the opinion was also given that their tendenc}- is to remain 
among and near their own people. 


The chief concern of investors, brokers, and real estate dealers is as to the 
ability of Negroes to meet obligations. There is a common belief, not shaken 
e\-en by the satisfactor}' experiences of those who have dealt with them, that 
Negroes have no financial resources, and are thriftless and impro\-ident. Inas- 
much as a large part of the present housing difficulty hinges upon this point, 
the Commission made mquiries as to the thrift of Negroes. A group of large 
banks in the ''Loop" and in neighborhoods of Negro residents were asked to 
give their experiences with Negroes as depositors and investors. In spite of 
contrar\- opinion it appears that the resources of Negroes in Chicago are 
astonishingly large. In the summer of 1920 in one of the South Side banks 
operated by white men Negroes had deposits of $750,000. One banker told of a 
Negro banker who sold among the Negroes a bond issue of $150,000 on an old 
building on Wabash Avenue, paying solicitors 10 per cent commission to make 
sales. The sa\-ings deposits in his bank recently had grown very materially. 
It was his experience that only a few Negroes buy bonds. They only inquire 
casually about them. 

The sales manager for bonds at a large savings bank, however, told of the 
sale of $3,000 worth of bonds to a Negro woman who paid for them from a roll 
of bills of Sio to $50. Another "downto^^-n" broker told of a Negro porter 
in a '"Loop" hotel, who recently loaned $6,000 through his fijm. 

The uiformation as to Negro deposits, sought by the Co mmis sion, was 
prox-ided by seven trust and sa^-ings banks, three state banks, two national 
banks, and one trust company. These were able to isolate and check up their 
Negro deposits. One of the banks had $1,500,000 on deposit for Negroes; 


another $1,000,000. Still another had 4,000 Negro depositors. A state bank 
had $650,000 on deposit for Negroes, another $150,000 and one of the national 
banks had $47,000. 

The average deposits of the Negroes are not so large as those of all the 
depositors. The comparison, however, reveals a fair porportion when it is 
considered that there are many very large individual depositors and business 
houses among the whites. This is how the amounts run, by institutions: 

Average Individual Savings Balance 

Average Individual Balance 

(White'and Negro Combined) 

(Negroes Only) 


$ 50.00 



545- 00 


400 . GO 


I 20. GO 












It was the almost unanimous report that Negroes are more likely to with- 
draw their accounts than are white people, that their accounts are less perma- 
nent. In two instances only was the opinion expressed that they were about 
the same with both races. 

Accompanying the questionnaire to banks was a list of questions concerning 
real estate loans. One of these was: "Does your bank make loans to Negroes 
on real estate, collateral, commercial paper, or personal notes ?" All except one 
of the trust and savings banks replied in the afl&rmative. One of the state 
banks buys commercial paper on proper security, but not real estate loans 
because of the difficulty in selling them. One of the national banks buys 
commercial or collateral paper on its merits, without regard to color. Indeed, 
it appears that no color line is drawn in this line of business except by the 
few institutions that decline all loans to Negroes. 

In general it was found that the Negroes are showing strong tendencies to 
open bank accounts, that they are steadily improving in the amount of deposits 
made, in the steadiness of their accounts, and in thrift in general. However, 
it appears that in only a few of the banks are they welcomed and in most of 
them they are only tolerated. In banks located in neighborhoods in which 
Negroes live there is an amazing number of Negro depositors, who receive, 
as a rule, friendly advice and help in their financial transactions. Thus 
Negroes are taught banking formahties, while thrift is encouraged, and a 
good spirit is developed among the white employees toward Negro depositors. 
In some instances, however, Negroes, like their white brothers, show suspicion 
of banking institutions when they have suffered losses. 


It appears also that, in addition to the growing desire to invest in homes 
of their own, Negroes are showing a strong tendency to engage in business 
ventures. They are developing insurance companies, co-operative stores, 
retail stores of various kinds, and kindred enterprises. 

Negroes' lack of opportunities for hanking experience. — In order to carry 
forward successfully their business undertakings Negroes need practical 
personal experience and training in banking and financial methods. Yet there 
is a strong tendency to bar Negroes from employment in banks, except as 
porters or in some unskilled capacity, and they are thus denied the experience 
needed in solving financial problems among their own race. 

Bankers were asked: "If Negroes competent to learn practical banking 
were available, could you employ them?" Here are some of the condensed 

1. Other employees would refuse to co-operate with them and associate with 

2. They are not reliable as a rule. 

3. Do not think so. 

4. Yes. 

5. No. 

6. We have no objections beyond the fact that 95 per cent of our depositors are 
white; consequently we would not care to employ colored tellers or clerks in handling 
their business. 

7. We could not have them in clerical positions. 

8. In a general way we feel that the employment of Negroes by banking institu- 
tions would cause trouble with certain classes of our depositors. 

9. Very difficult to work white and colored in same ofiice or cages. White 
customers prefer to have white clerks wait upon them. 

10. Clerks who were antagonistic to Negroes would bring about constant diffi- 
culties through the misplacing of papers, mistakes, etc., which would seem to be the 
fault of the Negroes. 

11. Have found that a Negro will appear to be strictly honest for a period of 
years and then turn around and prove not to be. 

12. Our section of the city is entirely white, but with a fear of colored invasion. 
There is, therefore, a strong prejudice against them. We have only about half a 
dozen accounts with colored people. Two of these are in the savings department 
and are maintained with large balances. These two customers are thrifty and care- 
ful with their money. The others are not. 

13. In former years a bank position was eagerly sought and considered excep- 
tionally good. At present, because of higher salaries which can be offered by concerns 
which make greater earnings than banks and can therefore pay more, the banks are 
not getting the same high grade of employees. With the former class it would have 
been possible to appeal to their sense of duty to help educate the Negroes and to 
overcome prejudice. With present conditions it is not Ukely that this appeal would 
have the same effect, and prejudice against Negroes would make trouble in our routine. 

14. Social factors enter. For instance, banks often have dinners or other events 
for or among their employees. No "Loop" hotel would put on an affair for whites 


and Negroes. There is also the difficulty of washrooms, and lockers, etc., where 
prejudiced employees could make a great deal of trouble. 

It would seem, then, that there is not much chance for the hundreds of 
intelligent Negro high-school and college graduates in Chicago to obtain a 
practical education in banking methods through direct experience. Banks 
owned by Negroes are few and small, and there is scarcely any opportunity to 
obtain similar experience in Negro building and loan, insurance, and other 
companies, which are also limited in number. 



Contacts of whites and Negroes in the North and South differ according 
to the institutions and traditions of the sections in which they have been reared. 
In the South relations are fixed and generally understood, although Negroes 
consider the institutions on which these relations are based oppressive and 
consistently oppose them. There the "color line" is drawn rigidly without 
reference to the desires or comfort of Negroes or the free expression of their 
citizenship privileges. Because it is nearer than the North to the institution 
of slavery, the South still maintains an almost patriarchal relationship with 
its Negro population. Small communities, the plantation system, and the 
great numbers of Negroes in domestic service hold the two races steadily in 
contacts so close that class as well as race lines are maintained with deliberate- 
ness and persistence. Even where there are no laws specifically regulating 
association of the races, the sentiment of the community is enforced, frequently 
in disregard of existing general laws. Thus Negroes may not eat in a restaurant 
with whites, sit in adjoining seats in a theater, live in the same neighborhoods, 
work together on the same jobs, or attend the same schools. 

In northern communities the institutions are more liberal and with few 
exceptions there are no restrictive laws applying specifically to racial associa- 
tion. In fact, the trend of legislation and of court decisions is strongly toward 
adopting and enforcing general regulations without regard to race or color. 
Relations are less personal, contacts are wider and more frequent. 

From a very simple organization of relations in the South, Negroes are 
transported to more complex relations based on more elaborate urban distribu- 
tion of responsibilities. Thus it happens that whites and Negroes in Chicago 
may be found working together in industry, riding together on street cars, 
attending the same schools, sharing political activities, with an increasing 
number of Negroes holding public olJ&ce, transacting business in banks, stores, 
and real estate, competing in athletics in public schools, colleges, and the 
Y.M.C.A., and conferring on social problems in civic and reform clubs. 

The increasing number of these contacts cannot fail to influence the neces- 
sary adjustments. The general public seems to accept necessary contacts 
with a minimum of outward friction, as is shown by thousands of daily contacts. 
Each contact, however, where there is friction, is a focus of comment, antago- 
nism, resentment, prejudice, or fear. But association in such places as hotels, 
restaurants, barber shops, dance halls, and theaters is often limited by tradition 
and custom in the North as strictly as by regulation in the South. 



The legal status of Negroes in Illinois differs in no respect from that of 
white persons. The limitations which affect Negroes are established through 
rules imposed by persons who offer public services and accommodations. 
When these rules are unfair, evasive, or even illegal, they can be enforced only 
because of non-enforcement of existing laws. Federal and state courts are 
in accord in holding Negro men and women in Illinois to be citizens of the 
United States and of the commonwealth, protected by the laws against dis- 
crimination or oppression on account of their race or color. 

There are two lines of decisions in Illinois relating to discriminations on 
account of color. One line of cases prohibits discrimination in certain public 
places and the other prohibits discrimination against school children. All but 
two of these cases were tried since the passage of the School Act and the Civil 
Rights Act, prohibiting such discrimination, enacted in 1874 and 1885, respec- 
tively. The civil-rights cases' are briefly reviewed below by a consideration 
of the school cases. 


The Civil Rights Act, originally passed in 1885, was amended in 1903, 
and again in 191 1. Section i of this act now provides: 

That all persons within the jurisdiction of said State of Illinois shall be entitled 
to the fuU and equal enjoyment of the accommodation, advantages, facilities and 
privileges of inns, restaurants, eating houses, hotels, soda-fountains, saloons, barber 
shops, bathrooms, theaters, skating rinks, concerts, cafes, bicycle rinks, elevators, 
ice-cream parlors or rooms, railroads, omnibuses, stages, street cars, boats, funeral 
hearses, and public conveyances on land and water, and all other places of pubUc 
accommodation and amusement, subject only to the conditions and limitations 
established by law and applicable alike to all citizens; nor shall there be any dis- 
crimination on account of race or color in the price to be charged and paid for lots 
or graves in any cemetery or place for burying the dead, but the price to be charged 
and paid for lots in any cemetery or place for burying the dead shall be applicable 
alike to all citizens of every race and color. 

Section 2 provides: 

That any person who shall violate any of the provisions of the foregoing section 
by denying to any citizen, except for reasons applicable alike to all citizens of every 
race and color and regardless of color or race, the full enjoyment of any accommoda- 
tions, advantages, facilities or privileges in said section enumerated or by aiding or 
inciting such denial, shall for every such offense forfeit and pay a sum not less than 
$25 nor more than I500 to the person aggrieved thereby, to be recovered in any court 

' Civil-rights cases are: Williams v. Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Co., 55 111. 185; 
Baylies v. Curry, 128 III. 287; Cecil v. Green, 161 III. 265; People v. Forest Home Cemetery 
Co., 258 111. 36; Grace v. Moseley, 112 111. App. 100; Dean v. Chicago &• N.W. R.R. Co., 183 
111. App. 317; Thorne v. Alcazar Amusement Co., 210 111. App. 173; White v. Pasfield, 212 
lU. App. 73- 


of competent jurisdiction in the county where said offense was committed, and shall 
also for every such offense be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction 
thereof, shall be fined not to exceed $500 or shall be imprisoned not more than one 
year or both; and provided further, that a judgment in favor of the party aggrieved, 
or punishment upon an indictment, shall be a bar to either prosecution respectively. 

Anna William v. Chicago b° Northwestern Railway Company (55 111. 185) — 
the first case of color discrimination which reached the supreme court of 
Illinois — was heard in 1870, before the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The 
court decided that a railroad company could not exclude a Negro woman on 
account of her color from a certain car reserved for the use of ladies. The 
evidence showed that the brakeman had refused to permit the Negro woman 
to enter the "ladies' car" and pushed her away. The jury awarded her 
$200 damages, which the court upheld as reasonable. 

Before the Amendment of 1903, the Civil Rights Act of 1885 provided 
that all persons should be entitled 

to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodation, advantages, facilities and 
privileges of inns, restaurants, eating houses, barber shops, public conveyances on 
land or water, theaters, and aU other places of public accommodation and amusement, 
subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and appHcable 
alike to all citizens. 

In 1896, in Cecil v. Green (60 111. App., 61 ; afi&rmed, 161 111. 265), the court 
decided that the expression "all other places of public accommodation" 
embraced only places of the same general character as those enumerated, 
and therefore that soda fountains were not included within the general term. 

The amendment of 1903 included soda fountains, saloons, bathrooms, 
skating rinks, concerts, bicycle rinks, elevators, and ice-cream parlors. 

In Baylies v. Curry (30 111. App. 105; afiirmed, 128 111. 36), decided in 
1889, a Negro woman, after being refused tickets at the box-office of Curry's 
Theater, had a white woman purchase two tickets for her in the balcony. 
Upon attempting to use them, the Negro woman and her husband were referred 
back to the box-office and their money returned. The proprietor introduced 
evidence to show that his theater was in a bad neighborhood, and he had, 
therefore, adopted the rule of reserving certain rows for Negroes in each 
section of the house. The supreme court, in affirming judgment for $100 
damages, said: "Beyond all question, the Civil Rights Act prohibits the 
denial of access to the theater and to the several circles or grades of seats 
therein, because of race or color." 

In 1903, in Grace v. Moseley (112 111. App. 100), it was held that the statute 
imposes liability only where the defendant denies or incites a denial of service, 
not where he merely fails to provide service. 

The amendment of 191 1 provided that there should not be any discrimina- 
tion on account of race or color in the price charged for lots or graves in any 


Relying upon this provision, Gaskill, a Negro, applied for a writ of 
mandamus to compel the Forest Home Cemetery Company to receive the 
body of his wife for burial {People ex rel. Gaskill v. Forest Home Cemetery 
Company, 258 111. 36, 1913). The cemetery company had passed a resolution 
in 1907 that thereafter the cemetery would be maintained for the burial of 
white persons only — except that colored persons owning lots in the cemetery, 
and their direct heirs, should be admitted for burial. Gaskill did not own 
a lot in the cemetery, but four of his children had been buried there fifteen to 
twenty years before in single graves separated from each other; and when he 
applied in 191 2 for space for the burial of his wife, the company refused per- 
mission solely on account of her color. 

The court held that the 191 1 amendment did not prohibit a cemetery 
corporation, which did not have the power of eminent domain under its charter 
and which had no monopoly of the burial places in its vicinity, from making 
and enforcing a rule excluding colored persons from burial in its cemetery. 
The case was taken on writ of error to the Supreme Court of the United States 
(238 U.S. 606), but the writ was dismissed for want of jurisdiction without 
further comment. 

In Dea7i v. Chicago 6° Northwestern Railway Company (183 111. App. 317; 
1913), Dean, a Negro, recovered damages of $300 from the railway company 
for its refusal to allow him to ride in a station elevator because of his color.' 


The first school case was decided in 1874, before there was any statute 
forbidding discrimination agamst Negro children in the public schools-^* In 
Chase v. Stephenson (71 111. 383; 1874) a taxpayer filed a bill to enjoin the 
directors of a school district from maintaining a separate school for Negro 
children; and the court held that the directors had no authority to discriminate 
on account of color, and the separate school was enjoined. 

» White V. Pasfield, 212 111. App. 73; 1918. A Negro filed a bill in equity to enjoin the 
lessees of a public pavilion and swimming-pool from excluding him therefrom. It was held 
that a court of equity had no jurisdiction to enjoin such a violation of the Civil Rights Act, 
but left the party to his statutory remedies of either an action for damages or criminal prose- 

Thome v. Alcazar Amusement Company, 210 111. App. 173, 1918, was an action to recover 
the penalty provided by the Civil Rights Act for refusing to permit a Negro woman to occupy 
a theater seat for which she had purchased a ticket. Judgment in favor of the plaintiff in 
the municipal court was reversed in the appellate court on the ground that the municipal 
court had no jurisdiction to impose penalties for criminal acts occurring outside the city 

» School cases in Illinois are as follows: Chase v. Stephenson, 71 111. 383; People v. Board 
Education of Quincy, loi 111. 308; People v. McFall and Board of Education ofQuincy, 
26 111. App. 319, affirmed, 124 111. 642; People v. Board of Education of Upper Alton School 
District, 127 111. 613; Bibb v. Mayor of Alton, 179 111. 615; 193 lU- 309; 209 111. 461; 221 111. 
27s; 233 111- 542. 


In March, 1874, "An Act to Protect Colored Children in Their Rights to 
Attend Public Schools" was passed which provided: 

That all directors of schools, boards of education, or other school officers, whose 
duty it now is or may be hereafter to provide in their respective jurisdictions schools 
for the education of all children between the ages of six and twenty-one years, are 
prohibited from excluding directly or indirectly any such child from such school on 
account of the color of such child. 

Two school cases have since arisen at Quincy, Illinois. The first, decided 
in 1882 {People ex rel. Longress v. Board of Education of Quincy, loi 111. 308), 
was a quo warranto proceeding, attacking a regulation of the school board, 
requiring all Negro children to attend one school, and excluding them from all 
others. The court held that the laws of Illinois prohibited such discrimination 
and the board was without authority to make the regulation. 

In the second Quincy case, decided in 1888 {People v. McFall and Board 
of Education of Quincy 26 111. App. 319; affirmed, 124 111. 642), the petition for 
quo warranto charged that the Board of Education had continued the illegal 
discrimination against Negro children ever since the decision in the first case. 
The petition was supported by a number of affidavits of Negroes. After a 
full hearing on afiidavits and counter-afiidavits the trial court denied the 
petition. The appellate court affirmed the judgment, characterizing the 
afl&davits in support of the petition as "vague and unsatisfactory"; and the 
supreme court affirmed the judgment. 

Quincy has fourteen schools, and the School Board has divided the city into 
four school districts. The Lincoln School is exclusively a Negro school and is 
the only school in the district in which most of the Negroes live. All white 
children in that district are transferred to other schools, and the few Negro 
children outside the Lincoln district are urged to attend the Lincoln School. 
The Negro teachers and Negro principal of the Lincoln School are paid 
higher salaries than other teachers in Quincy, and are told that if they 
wish to maintain themselves in the Quincy schools, they must persuade Negro 
children in other districts to attend the Lincoln School. In this way the board 
has succeeded in confining Negro children with few exceptions to the Lincoln 
School. Yet some Negroes are attending five other schools, including the 
high school. 

There have also been two school cases from Alton, Illinois. The first 
case was People v. Board of Education of Upper Alton (127 111. 613), decided 
in 1889. This was a proceeding by mandamus, begun in the supreme court 
by John Peair, to compel the Board of Education to admit his two children to 
the high school of Upper Alton. Certain issues of fact were certified to the 
circuit court for trial by jury. The jury returned a general verdict in favor 
of the Board of Education, notwithstanding the following special findings 
in answer to questions asked by the relator, John Peair: 


Q.: When application was made .... to the principal in charge of the said 
building on behalf of relator's two children for permission to attend school in said 
building, was such permission refused by said principal because said children were 
colored ? 

A.: Yes. 

Q.: Have not the children of relator, John Peair, been excluded from attending 
school in said high school building by the defendants on account of the color of said 
children ? 

A.: Yes. 

The supreme court held that the general verdict in favor of the Board of 
Education was " so manifestly the result of misdirection by the court as to be 
entitled to no consideration," and a writ of mandamus was ordered. 

The second school case from Alton, though begun in 1899, was not finally 
decided until 1908. This was a petition for mandamus filed in the supreme 
court by Scott Bibb to compel the mayor and city council of Alton to admit 
his children to the Washington School which they had been attending, and from 
which he alleged they were excluded on account of color and were transferred 
to a school attended only by Negro children. The supreme court certified the 
case to the circuit court of Madison County for the trial of certain issues of 
facts. Before the supreme court finally ordered the mandamus to issue in 
1908 the case had been tried by a jury seven times, had been before the supreme 
court five times, and the Bibb children were grown up. It is interesting as a 
flagrant example of race prejudice in the trial judge and jury. 

In this case {People ex rel. Scott Bibb v. Mayor and Common Council of Alton, 
233 111. 542) the supreme court said: 

The issues in this case have been tried seven times by juries in the circuit court, 
and in two of them the jury disagreed. Upon the first trial where there was a verdict 
it was in favor of the respondents, and it was certified to this court. That verdict 
was set aside for manifest error prejudicial to the relator in ruUngs of the court in 
the admission of evidence. (People ex rel. v. Mayor and Common Council of Alton, 
179 111. 615.) There was another trial resulting in a verdict in favor of the respondents, 
which was set aside on account of a misdirection of the court in submitting to the jury 
a question of law. (People ex rel. v. Mayor and Common Council of Alton, 193 111. 
309.) Upon another trial there was a third verdict in favor of the respondents, 
which this court set aside because clearly contrary to the facts proved and without 
any support in the evidence. It was proved at that trial, beyond dispute or contro- 
versy, that the respondents were guilty of the charge contained in the petition, and 
the evidence introduced by them had no tendency to prove that the intention clearly 
manifested by their acts did not exist. The verdict could only be accounted for as 
a product of passion, prejudice or hostility to the law. (People ex rel. v. Mayor and 
Common Council of Alton, 209 lU. 461.) The attorney for relator then urged that a 
peremptory writ should be awarded on the ground that the evidence in the record 
clearly showed the relator to be entitled to it. The relator, however, had not requested 
the circuit court to direct a verdict in his favor, and it was said that if such a motion 
had been made the court would doubtless have granted it. The court said that the 


issues were sent to the circuit court for trial in conformity with the practice governing 
the trial of issues of fact in actions at law before a jury, and it was not deemed advis- 
able, in the existing condition of the record, to set aside that order. The case was 
sent back for another trial, and upon the next trial the attorney for relator moved 
the court to direct a verdict in his favor, and this the court refused to do, assigning 
as a reason that this court had directed that the issues be submitted to another jury. 
The excuse was so shallow and baseless as to justify a conclusion that it was a mere 
pretext to evade a compliance with the law as declared by this court, and the verdict 
was set aside and the circuit court directed, in the trial of the questions of fact, to 
proceed in accordance with the opinion then filed and the earlier opinions in the case. 
{People ex rel. v. Mayor and Common Council of Alton, 221 111. 275.) The case has 
been again tried, and a verdict in favor of the respondents, unsupported by any 
evidence, has been returned to this court. The evidence was to all intents and 
purposes the same as upon the former trials, and demonstrated, beyond the possibility 
of a doubt, that the children of relator were excluded from the Washington School, 
which was the most convenient of the public schools of the city to which they had the 
right to be admitted, and that the exclusion was solely on account of their race and 
color, and for no other reason whatever. The evidence for the respondents that 
nothing was said about schools or colored children by the mayor and council in 
changing the ordinances for the purpose of excluding colored children from schools 
attended by white children; that the intention to exclude them was not declared, 
or that orders were never issued to the police, or that the mayor never intended the 
police force imder his control to do what they did and what he knew they were doing, 
had no tendency whatever to prove that the children of the relator were not excluded 
by the respondents on account of their race or color. At the conclusion of the evidence 
the attorney for the relator moved the court to direct a verdict finding the issues in 
favor of the relator and presented to the court a written instruction for that purpose, 
but the court denied the motion and refused to give the instruction. In so doing the 
court erred, and the error was in a matter of law, and contrary to the law in this case 
as declared by this court in previous opinions filed in the case. 

The attorney for respondents says that we ought to approve this verdict for the 
reason that the questions of fact have been tried seven times in the circuit court; 
that the juries have twice disagreed and five juries have decided in favor of the 
respondents, and all the trials have been presided over by learned judges. Great 
weight is justly given to the conclusion of a jury upon controverted questions of fact 
where the verdict appears to be the result of an honest exercise of judgment and the 
weighing, with fair dehberation, of the credibility of witnesses, but it is beyond 
dispute that this verdict, when viewed in the most favorable light for the respondents, 
does not represent any conclusion of the jury from the evidence, and that all of the 
verdicts represent nothing but a refusal by juries to enforce a law which they do not 
personally approve or which is distasteful to them. In the first opinion filed in this 
case it was said that it might be that the wisest of both races believe that the best 
interests of each would be promoted by voluntary separation in the public schools, 
but that it is no less the duty of courts to enforce the law as it stands, without respect 
to race or persons. We woidd be remiss in our duty to enforce the law and would 
forfeit the respect of all law-abiding citizens if we should approve this verdict for no 
other reason than because it is one of a series which represent, not the enforcement 


of law or the discharge of duty, but a deplorable disregard for the law and for the rights 
of citizens. The verdicts have aU been more offensive and dangerous assaults upon 
the law, the government, and organized societies, than utterances of individ- 
uals or societies who are opposed to aU law, and which are regarded only as the 
sentiments of the ignorant, depraved and vicious who are the enemies of a gov- 
ernment of laws. These verdicts were pronounced, not by those who were avowed 
enemies of law and government, but by those who constituted a part of the gov- 
ernmental machinery for the enforcement of the law and who had been sworn 
to discharge their duty in that regard. Such verdicts not only denote opposition 
to the enforcement of the law, but they also jeopardize the highest interests of 
society and individuals. When the law, through the refusal of jurors to regard their 
oaths, becomes impotent to protect the rights of the humblest, the rights of no person 
are secure; and jurors may take heed that they obey and enforce the law, lest their 
refusal to enforce the law for the protection of others becomes effective to deprive 
them of their legal rights and substitute the beliefs of jurors and courts as to the 
the wisdom of laws enacted for their protection. The error of the court in refusing 
to direct a verdict is not obviated by the fact that there have been so many verdicts 
contrary to the law and the evidence. The verdict must be set aside, and the next 
question is whether the issues shall be again sent to the circuit court for trial. 

In this case the effort to obtain a fair trial of the issues of fact before a jury has 
proved utterly futile, and upon the trial now under review the court refused to direct 
a verdict in passing upon a question of law raised by the motion of the relator for such 
a direction. It is clear that after so many trials there can be no further evidence 
produced by either party but that all the evidence relating to the issues is before us. 
We are of the opinion that it would be a wrong to the relator to further delay him in 
establishing his rights and to compel him to add to the trouble and expense already 
incurred in an effort to compel obedience to the law. The verdict of the jury is set 
aside and the issues will not be again certified to the circuit court for trial but will 
now be finally disposed of. The averments of the petition have been fully proved 
upon repeated trials and the evidence is preserved in the record. The evidence 
produced by the respondents affords no support to their answer. 

We therefore find that all the material facts alleged in the petition are true as 
therein stated and that the relator is entitled to a writ of mandamus as therein prayed, 
and it is therefore ordered that a peremptory writ of mandamus issue according to 
the prayer of the petition, that the respondents pay the costs, and that execution 
issue therefor. 


The public schools furnish one of the most important points of contact 
between the white and Negro races, because of the actual number of contacts 
in the daily school life of thousands of Negro and white children, and also 
because the reactions of young children should indicate whether or not there 
is instinctive race prejudice. 

The Chicago Board of Education makes no distinction between Negro 
and white children. There are no separate schools for Negroes. None of the 
records of any teacher or principal shows which children are Negroes and which 


white. The board does not know how many Negro children there are in any 
school or in the city at large, nor how many of the teachers are Negroes. 
It was impossible to obtain from the board, for example, a list of the schools 
having a large Negro enrohnent with which to begin the investigation. An 
unfortunate but unavoidable incidental effect of the investigation was the 
focusing of attention of principals and teachers on the Negroes in their 

Frequently white teachers in charge of classes with Negro pupils are race 
conscious and accept the conduct of white children as normal and pay dis- 
proportionate attention to the conduct of Negro children as exceptional and 
distinctive. As a result of the focusing of attention on Negro children, the 
inquiry, which was intended to get balanced information, developed a dis- 
proportionate amount of information concerning their conduct as compared 
with that of whites. Teachers who considered both races were inclined to 
believe that Negro children as a group had no special weaknesses that white 
children as a group did not also exhibit; that some Negro children, like any 
other children, were good, some were bad, and some indifferent, and that no 
generalizations about the race could be made from the characteristics or 
attitude of a few. 

It became evident as soon as the investigation started that it was necessary 
to distinguish between the northern and the southern Negro. The southern 
Negro is conspicuous the moment one enters the elementary schools. Over-age 
or retarded children are found in all the lower grades, special classes, and 
ungraded rooms, and are noticeable all the way to the eighth grade, where 
seventeen- and nineteen-year-old children are sometimes found. In some 
schools these children are found in the regular classes; in others there are 
special rooms for retarded children, and as these groups are often composed 
ahnost entirely of Negro children, there is an appearance of segregation which 
made necessary a study of these retarded children from the South. 

The southern child is hampered first of all by lack of educational oppor- 
tunity in the South. He is usually retarded by two or more years when he 
enters the northern school because he has never been able to attend school 
regularly, due to the short term in southern rural schools, distance from school, 
and inadequacy of teaching force and school equipment. According to a 
report by the United States Bureau of Education on Negro Education} 90 per 
cent of the Negro children between fifteen and twenty years of age attending 
school in the South are over-age. Says this report: 

The inadequacy of the elementary school system for colored children is indicated 
both by the comparisons of public appropriations and by the fact that the attendance 
in both public and private schools is only 58.1 per cent of the children sk to fourteen 
years of age. The average length of the public school term is less than five months 

^ Negro Education, I, 33. Bulletin No. 38, 1916. Department of the Interior, Bureau 
of Education. 2 vols. 



in practically all of the states. Most of the school buildings, especially those in the 
rural districts, are in wretched condition. There is Uttle supervision and Httle effort 
to improve the schools or adapt their efforts to the needs of the community. The 
reports of the state departments of Georgia and Alabama indicate that 70 per cent 
of the colored teachers have third grade or temporary certificates, representing a 
preparation less than that usually given in the first eight elementary grades. Investi- 
gations made by supervisors of colored schools in other states indicate that the 
percentage of poorly prepared colored teachers is almost as high in the other southern 

The inadequacy of Negro teachers' salaries is shown by the per capita 
expenditure in six southern states for each white and Negro child between 
six and fourteen years of age. The salary of the teacher, expressed in per 
capita for each child, ranges from $5.27 to $13.79 for white pupils and from 
$1.44 to $8.53 for Negro pupils. South Carolina pays its white teachers ten 
times as much as its Negro teachers. Alabama pays its white teachers 
about nine times as much. In Kentucky the per capita for white and colored 
is about the same.^ 

Distribution of school funds by counties indicated a decreasing per capita 
expenditure for the Negro as the proportion of Negroes in the county increased. 
A table from the Bulletin shows i^ 

County Groups, Percentage of Negroes 
in the Population 

White School 




Per Capita 



Per Capita 








$ 7.96 




Counties 10 to 25 per cent 


Pniintipt; oe fn co ner cent 




A southern state superintendent of education is quoted in the report, as 

There has never been any serious attempt in this state to offer adequate educa- 
tional facilities for the colored race. The average length of the term for the state 
is only four months; practically all of the schools are taught in dilapidated churches, 
which, of course, are not equipped with suitable desks, blackboards, and the other 
essentials of a school; practically all of the teachers are incompetent, possessing 
Httle or no education and having had no professional training whatever, except a 
few weeks obtained in the summer schools; the schools are generally overcrowded, 
some of them having as many as 100 students to the teacher; no attempt is made to 
do more than teach the children to read, write, and figure, and these subjects are 
learned very imperfectly.'' 

' Negro Education, II, 14. 
' Ibid., I, 23. 

3 Ibid., I, 28. 
''Ibid. II, 15. 


Another difi&culty was suggested by the principal of a Chicago school 
(Webster) where 30 per cent of the children are Negroes, who said: "We 
base our educational ideas on certain backgrounds. The curriculum in Chicago 
was planned for children who come from families who are educated. It 
doesn't take children coming from uneducated families into consideration. 
That isn't fair either to the white or colored children." 

The problem of readjustment to life in a northern city also affects the 
child's school life, and he is self-conscious and inclined to be either too timid 
or too self-assertive. A Negro teacher in speaking of the difficulties confronting 
the southern Negro, as well as the whole Negro group, said: 

The southern Negro has pushed the Chicago Negro out of his home, and the 
Chicago Negro in seeking a new home is opposed by the whites. What is to happen ? 
The whites are prejudiced against the whole Negro group. The Chicago Negro is 
prejudiced against the southern Negro. Surely it makes a difficult situation for the 
southern Negro. No wonder he meets a word with a blow. And all this comes into 
the school more or less. 

Another Negro teacher thus analyzes further the adjustment problems 
which tend to make the Negro newly come from the South unpopular with 
the Chicago Negro, as well as with the whites: 

These famihes from the South usually come from the country where there are 

no close neighbors Then the family is transplanted to Chicago to an apartment 

house, and even in with another famUy. The whole environment is changed and the 
trouble begins. No sense of property rights, no idea of how to use conveniences, 
no idea of how to Uve in the new home, to keep it up, to live with everybody else so 
near. On top of that, the father does not fit into his work, and therefore cannot 
support the family; the mother goes out to work, and what is the result? Poorly 

kept houses and poorly kept chUdren A normal home shows itself in the school, 

and poor home conditions show up stiU more. 

The Negro child born in the North is not found to an unusual extent 
among the retarded children. He has been able to enter school on time and 
to attend the full term of nine months; his teachers compare favorably with 
those in white American and foreign neighborhoods, and his parents as a rule 
have a better background. Many teachers say that the progress of northern- 
born Negroes compares very favorably with that of whites. 


Since the Board of Education keeps no record of Negro children as such, 
it could not furnish a list of the schools having a percentage of Negro children. 
Therefore a list was made up of all the schools in the Negro residential areas, 
the boundaries of these schools were obtained from the Board of Education, 
and the percentage of Negroes in each school district was worked out from the 
1920 census figures. The schools listed in Table X were found to be situated 



in districts where the Negro population was lo per cent or more. The figures 
at the right show the approximate percentage of Negro children in the school, 
as given by the principal of the school. 

Fuller School is a branch of Felsenthal and has the same principal; it is 
in a neighborhood where the percentage of Negroes is practically the same as 
in the neighborhoods around Felsenthal, but there is a very great difference 


Schools m Districts Having an Average Negro Population 
OF lo Per Cent or More 







Emerson (branch of Hayes) . 




Fuller (branch of Felsenthal) 





Mann (branch of Raymond) 




Sherwood .' . 




Percentage of 

Percentage of 

Negroes in 

Negro Children 


in School 













































in the percentage of Negro children in the two schools, according to figures 
given by the principal. It appears from this that the principal, who is a 
believer in separate schools, places the large majority of the Negro children 
in Fuller School. Negroes in the vicinity say that Fuller School is run down 
and neglected, that the staff of teachers is below the average, that the school 
has no playground of its own but must use the one at Felsenthal, and that all 
the unmanageable children are sent there from Felsenthal. It is also believed 
by these Negroes that Fuller is used as a feeder for the other schools in the 
neighborhoods where there are fewer Negro children. 

The points in regard to physical equipment stressed by a district super- 
intendent in the area containing the largest number of schools attended 
mainly by Negroes were: date of erection, an assembly hall located on the 
main floor, gymnasium, and, in the congested districts, bathroom and lunch- 
room. Table XI shows such facts concerning these schools. 

o g 
O S 

W -2 


\ y: AND 




It will be noted that only five of these schools, or 23 per cent, were built 
since 1900, and four of these five are in sections where the Negro population 
is less than 25 per cent. The ten schools serving the largest percentage of 
Negroes were built, one in 1856, one in 1867, seven between 1880 and 1889, 
and one between 1890 and 1899. Of the 235 white schools 133, or 56 per cent, 
were built after 1899. 

Physical Eqxjipment of Twenty-two Schools Attended Largely by Negroes* 


Date of 

Location of 
Assembly Hall 









First floor 
Third floor 
Third floor 

Third floor 
Third floor 
First floor 

Fourth floor 
Fourth floor 

Third floor 
First floor 
Third floor 
Third floor 
First floor 























































































* Data obtained from Directory of the Public Schools of the City of Chicago, 1919-20, published by the Board of 

Assembly halls and gymnasiums were totally lacking in seven of the 
twenty-two schools, and in the remaining fifteen the assembly hall was on the 
third or fourth floor, where, according to the district superintendent, it 
cannot have maximum use for community purposes. A really useful assembly 
hall, he stated, should be on the ground floor, opening directly on the school 
yard, and capable of being shut oS entirely from the rest of the building so 
that it could be lighted and heated separately for evening gatherings. Only 
three of these fifteen schools had separate gymnasiums. In the others the 
gymnasium was combined with the assembly hall. There was little in the 
way of apparatus; what there was consisted mainly of hand apparatus, includ- 
ing clubs, dumbbells and basket-balls, that could be used in the assembly hall 
or the corridors. The district superintendent emphasized the need for gym- 
nasiums in Negro residential areas because the children were weak physically 
and needed special exercises. 


Playground space for schools attended largely by Negroes compares 
favorably with that for schools attended largely by whites, though Douglas 
School (92 per cent Negro), with 1,513 pupils, has only one playground 96X 125 
feet. Most schools have two playgrounds, one for boys and one for girls. 
The only other school having such limited play space as Douglas is a foreign 
school, Von Humboldt, where there are 2,500 pupils and the playground is 
50X100 feet. Like Douglas, this is a double school with inadequate space 
for the children inside the school and outside. Sometimes there is a public 
playground near by which relieves the congestion on the school playground 
except in the case of Keith School (90 per cent Negro), the principal of which 
emphasized the need for a playground near her school. 

In a group of twenty-four schools, six of which are attended mainly by 
Negroes, six mainly by white Americans, and twelve mainly by chUdren of 
immigrants, it was found that there was no unusual crowding of classrooms 
in those attended mainly by Negroes except in the case of Douglas School. 
Conditions were practically the same in the three groups of schools. 

Indications of overcrowding are the average number of seats in a class- 
room, the average munber of pupils per teacher, and the double-school or shift 
system. There is little variation among the three groups of schools in the 
number of seats in the classroom and the number of pupils to each teacher, 
except that the school having the largest number of pupils to each teacher 
(57) is Colman, 92 per cent Negro. Although there are no double schools 
in the group attended mainly by white Americans, one of the six schools 
attended mainly by Negroes and five of the schools attended mainly by children 
of immigrants are double schools. Under this system, which is a makeshift 
in a neighborhood where another school is needed to take care of the children, 
the children go to school in two shifts, one shift an hour later than the 
other, and leave correspondingly later in the afternoon. Under this arrange- 
ment more children are at the school during the major part of the day than 
can be seated in the classroom and the full school curriculum can be carried on 
only under pressure, as one group of children must always be hurried on be- 
fore the next group appears. 


Information as to problems of contact in the schools was gathered from 
conferences to which the principals of high and elementary schools were invited, 
and by personal visits to the schools. Thirteen elementary schools were visited, 
seven of which had an enrolment of less than 50 per cent Negro, and six of 
which had an enrolment of more than 50 per cent Negro. The schools with 
the smaller percentage were: Drake (30),^ Felsenthal (20), Forrestville (38), 

' The figures after the name of the school throughout this section refer to the percentage 
of Negro children in the school in 1919-20. 



Haven (20), Oakland (26), Webster) (30), and Kenwood (a very small 
number of Negroes). The schools having a majority Negro were Colman 
(92), Doolittle (85), Douglas (93), Farren (92), Keith (90), and Moseley (70). 
The high schools visited were Englewood, Hyde Park, and Wendell Phillips. 
In Englewood and Hyde Park the percentage of Negroes was very small, 
while in Wendell Phillips the Negro children were about 56 per cent of the enrol- 

The opinions of principals and teachers about Negro children are a cross- 
section of public opinion on the race question with all its contradictions and 
irritations. It must therefore be borne in mind in reading this section on school 
contacts that whether Negro children are reported good or bad, bright or dull, 
quarrelsome or amiable, whether antagonism and voluntary grouping or their 
lack are reported, there is an inevitable tendency for the teacher to see the 
facts in the light of any prejudice or general views she may have on race 

It was thought, for example, that for the purposes of this discussion the 
schools could be put in two general groups: those with less than 50 per cent 
Negroes and those with more than 50 per cent Negroes. But it was immedi- 
ately apparent that no generalizations could be made on the basis of the percent- 
age of Negro children in the schools, because sometimes two principals of 
schools having the same proportion of Negro pupils reported widely different 
experience with reference to friction; and in some cases principals of schools 
with a small percentage of Negroes reported friction, while other principals 
of schools with a larger percentage reported harmonious relations. The most 
important factor determining the attitude of the teachers in a school was 
invariably the attitude of the principal. Though there were many cases where 
individual teachers held views entirely different from those of the principal, 
yet the attitude of the principal was usually reflected in the expressed opinion 
of the teachers and in the atmosphere of the school. 

But there is no explanation for total disagreement between two teachers in 
the same school as to whether or not there is race friction in the school 
except difference in points of view on the race problem. This factor is to be 
taken into consideration in weighing the testimony of teachers regarding 
school contacts of the races. 

The attitude of some of the principals and teachers was revealed in their 
fear that their schools, with 20 per cent or 30 per cent Negro children, would 
be regarded as largely Negro schools. The principal of a school with 30 per 
cent Negro children considered it an insult to be asked to have his school 
take part in a song festival with schools largely attended by Negroes. A 
teacher in a school 26 per cent Negro was much incensed because the Board 
of Education had sent Negroes to the school to talk to the children on cleaning 
up the neighborhood. She said that the white children did not seem to mind 
and listened interestedly; it was the teachers who considered it an outrage 


that Negroes should come to " tell a community seven-eighths white to clean 

Since the elementary schools and high schools present rather different 
problems, due to the greater number of social activities in the latter, it was 
decided to consider the two groups separately. 


The contacts in the elementary schools fall naturally under three heads: 
classroom contacts, building and playground contacts, and social contacts. 

Classroom contacts. — There was much less variety of opinion in regard to 
classroom contacts than the other two. Most teachers agreed that there was 
little friction so far as school work was concerned, even when it meant sitting 
next to one another or in the same seats. Most kindergarten teachers found 
the most natural relationship existing between the young Negro and white 
children. "Neither colored nor whites have any feeling in our kindergarten, " 
said one principal in a school 30 per cent Negro (Webster); "they don't 
understand the difference between colored and white children." In visiting 
one school the investigator noticed that the white children who objected to 
holding hands with the Negro children in the kindergarten and first and 
second grades were the better-dressed children who undoubtedly reflected the 
economic class and race consciousness of their parents. The Armour Mission 
near the school had excluded Negroes from its kindergarten, thereby fostering 
this spirit among the whites. A teacher m Doolittle (85 per cent) told of a 
little white girl in another school who cried because she was afraid the color 
from the Negro children's hands would rub off on hers; in her present school 
she has known no such instances in the kindergarten. This conduct is paral- 
leled in instances in which Negro children who have never had any contact 
with white children in the South are afraid of them when they first come 

Most of the teachers in the higher grades reported that there were no signs 
of race prejudice in the room. A teacher at Oakland (26 per cent) said that 
white girls sometimes asked to be moved to another seat when near a very 
dirty Negro child, but that this often happened when the dirty child was white. 
This teacher said it was the white mothers from the South, not the children, 
who wanted their children to be kept away from the Negroes. "The white 
children don't seem to mind the colored," she said. "I have had three or 
four mothers come in and ask that their children be kept away from the colored, 
but they were women from the South and felt race prejudice strongly. But 
they are the only ones who have complained." 

A teacher in a school 90 per cent Negro said that when doubling up in 
the seats was necessary whites and Negroes frequently chose each other. 
A teacher at Moseley (70 per cent), when the investigator was present, called 


upon a white girl to act as hostess to a Negro girl who had just come from the 
South, and the request was met with pride and pleasure by the white girl. 
On the same occasion a white boy was asked to help a Negro boy with his 
arithmetic, and the two doubled up and worked together quite naturally. 

"Race makes no difference," declared the principal of a school 92 per cent 
Negro (Colman). "The other day I had them all digging in the garden, and 
when they were all ready to go in I kept out one colored boy to help me plant 
seeds. We could use another boy, so I told Henry to choose anyone out of 
two rooms and he returned with an Italian. The color makes no differ- 

A few instances of jealousy are cited. In one of them resentment ran 
high because when a loving cup was presented in McKinley (70 per cent) for 
the best composition, it was awarded by a neutral outside jury to a white girl. 
The principal of this 70 per cent Negro school, in addition to finding the 
Negro children jealous, considered their parents insolent and resentful. On 
the investigator's first visit she said that military discipline was the only kind 
for children, and that absolute segregation was necessary. At the next inter- 
view she said she preferred her school to any other; that there was never any 
disciplinary difficulty, and that white children who had moved from the district 
were paying car fare to finish their course at her school. 

Discipline. — There was considerable variety of opinion among the teachers 
as to whether Negro children presented any special problems of discipline. 
The principal of a school 20 per cent Negro (Felsenthal), for example, said that 
discipline was more difficult in this school than in the branch where 90 per 
cent were Negroes (Fuller). This principal is an advocate of separate schools. 
She was contradicted by a teacher in her school who said she had never used 
different discipline for the Negroes. In schools where the principals were 
sympathetic and the interracial spirit good the teachers reported that Negro 
children were much like other children and could be disciplined in the same 
way. One or two teachers reported that Negro children could not be scolded 
but must be " jollied along " and the work presented as play. This is interesting 
in view of the frequent complaint of the children from the South that the 
teachers in Chicago played with them all the time and did not teach them 

Attitude toward Negro teachers. — Few Negro teachers were found in the 
schools investigated. 

At Doolittle (85 per cent) there were thirty-three teachers, of whom two 
were Negroes. There was also a Negro cadet. At Raymond (93 per cent) 
there were six Negro teachers and a Negro cadet in a staff of forty. At Keith 
(90 per cent) there were six Negro teachers in a staff of twelve. Two of these 
principals said that their Negro teachers compared favorably with their white 
teachers and that some of them were excellent- Asked whether there was 


much antagonism if a Negro teacher was assigned where all the children were 
white, the principal of a 93 per cent school (Raymond) said there had been one 
or two such cases. "They are most successful in the foreign districts on the 
West Side. The European people do not seem to resent the presence of a 
colored teacher." 

Another principal said that this was especially true where the foreign 
element was Jewish. A Negro teacher in a West Side school, largely Italian, 
is considered one of the ablest teachers in the school and proved herself highly 
competent during the war, when she assisted with the work of the draft board 
in the district. 

One or two principals said that they would not have Negro teachers in 
their schools because the white teachers "could not be intimate with colored 
teachers," or because Negro teachers were "cocky," or because "the Defender 
preaches propaganda for colored teachers to seek positions in white schools." 
Sometimes an effort was made to explain the principal's objection to Negro 
teachers by saying that Negro children had no respect for Negro teachers. 
One principal whose white teachers were rather below the accepted standard 
said that the one colored teacher who had been there was obliged to leave 
because of the children's protest against her. A Negro teacher in a 20 per 
cent school (Haven) was valued highly by the principal, who advised with her 
as to what measures could be taken to prevent tiie appearance of race feeling. 
This teacher formerly taught in a school where there were no Negro children 
and had experienced no difficulty in either type of school. "The children 
just seem to forget I am colored," she said. 

In Farren School (92 per cent) a teacher of a special room for children 
recently arrived from the South expressed the belief that these children "have 
a distinct and decided fear of the white teacher and it's up to the teacher to 
change this fear into respect." They were very timid at first, she said, due to 
the new environment and the contact with so many more people, especially 
white. This timidity lasted for about a year and then these children became 
more like Chicago children. 

Building and playground contacts. — At six out of the thirteen elementary 
schools some friction about the buildings and on the playgrounds was reported, 
and none at the other seven schools. On further analysis it appeared that the 
friction reported was general at only two of the six schools. At the other 
four the instances cited seemed either to involve a few troublesome mdividuals 
or to be quarrels among Negro children rather than between Negroes and 
whites. The two schools reporting general antagonism between Negro and 
white children had about 30 per cent Negro children. The principals of these 
schools said that the white children were dominated by the Negroes and did 
not dare stand up for their rights. The testimony of the principal of one of 
these schools showed a disposition to regard many acts as characteristically 
racial. For example, she needed no further evidence that a Negro boy had 



cut up a white boy's cap than the fact that it was cut with a safety-razor 
blade. Although both white and Negro boys commonly carry safety-razor 
blades to sharpen their pencils, she thought of razors only in connection with 
Negroes. She also believed that "Negro children of kindergarten age are 
unusually cruel," and that "Negroes need a curriculum especially adapted 
to their emotional natures." Again she said that a Negro boy who asked to 
be put back from the third to the first grade, because the third-grade work 
was too hard for him, was typical of Negro children, who "shut down on their 
intellectual processes when they are about twelve or fourteen years of age." 
In view of the numbers of Negro children in the higher grades who are advanc- 
ing normally, this is obviously an unwarranted generalization. 

There were some signs of friction at a school 20 per cent Negro (Haven) 
when a school largely Italian was combined with it, but the situation 
was handled tactfully by the principal and there had been no trouble. At 
a school 85 per cent Negro (Doolittle), where the white element was 
Jewish, all the teachers reported that there was no antagonism between the 

Voluntary grouping. — The only school where the investigator noticed Negro 
and white children playing in separate groups was Webster (30 per cent), 
whose principal reported antagonism between Negroes and whites. At the 
other schools natural minghng was reported by some teachers or observed 
by the investigator. At a school 26 per cent Negro (Oakland) three teachers 
said that Negro and white children did not mingle on the playgrounds, while 
another teacher said they all played together regardless of color. The principal 
and twelve teachers at a school 85 per cent Negro (DooHttle) agreed, with the 
exception of one teacher who was a southerner, that there was never anything 
but the most natural mingling in the classrooms, about the building and on 
the playground. At a school 30 per cent Negro (Drake) , the principal of which 
stated that the relations between the races were not harmonious, the investigator 
observed a free and natural grouping of Negroes and whites of all ages on the 
playground. The principal explained that this was "a forced rather than a 
natural grouping because of lack of apparatus for all." The white children 
at a school 20 per cent Negro (Haven) were Italians, Jews, and Greeks, and all 
the races played so naturally together that passersby frequently stopped to 
watch them. 

Social contacts. — There are few social organizations and gatherings in the 
elementary schools. The principal of a school 93 per cent Negro (Raymond) 
said that there were clubs through all the grammar grades and that the friendli- 
ness between the two races was marked, but added: 

We have not more than fifty or sixty white children in this particular building. 
One white child was elected vice-president, the first white child elected in eight years. 
It shows the friendly relationship when a white child cotdd be elected to office with 
a large preponderance of colored children. A Jewish boy was elected to a smaller 


office of clerk. The white children are not foreign. In their meetings the question 
of color never arises at all. 

In a few instances principals had found that graduation presented some 
difficulties, as white mothers would appear at the school a few days before 
and request that their children do not march with Negro children. "About 
the only time I see a white mother is near graduation," said the principal of 
a school 38 per cent Negro (Forrestville). "They always say they wouldn't 
care for themselves, but a friend might see and they would feel ashamed." 
" White children prefer not to march with colored at graduation, " said a teacher 
at Oakland School (26 per cent), "and mothers sometimes come to ask that it 
be so arranged that their girls can march with white girls. They usually say 
that for themselves they don't mind, but friends might see and wonder why that 
should be." 

A number of the schools have orchestras or occasional musical programs. 
The investigator heard one orchestra of eleven pieces in Doolittle School 
(85 per cent), which played remarkably well. All but one of the children 
were Negroes. A teacher in Webster School (30 per cent), where there was 
reported to be constant friction between Negro and white children, gave an 
incident of a Negro boy in the school playing the violin with a white accompa- 
nist and being enthusiastically applauded by the children. 

The principal of a 92 per cent Negro school (Colman) reported an unpleas- 
ant experience when pupils from her school were invited to take part in a 
musical program at a West Side Park. 

A group of sixty went with two white teachers in charge. On the way over a 
group of foreign women called out insulting remarks to the teachers, but no one paid 
any attention. After the program the group started marching out of the park and 
were met at the gate with a shower of stones. The teacher told the children to run 
for their lives, and they all had to scatter and hide in the bushes in the park or run 
toward home if they coiild. A rough set of boys had got together and were waiting 
for those children, stones all ready to throw. Since that time we have never accepted an 
invitation to sing outside our own neighborhood. Invitations have come from time to 
time, but the children all come with excuses. All of them, children and parents through- 
out the neighborhood, are afraid but you can't get anyone to come out and say it. 

Attitude of parents. — Principals and teachers were questioned about their 
relations with the parents of both Negro and white children — whether they 
received co-operation from the parents in matters of discipline; what was the 
attitude of the parents toward Negro teachers; and whether many requests 
were received from Negro or white parents for transfers to schools where 
there were fewer Negroes. 

In general it may be said that the principals who found Negro parents 
unco-operative, unambitious, and antagonistic were those who believed in 
separate schools, found Negro children difficult to discipline, and would have 


no Negro teachers in their schools. Such principals declared that Negro 
parents were "10 to i in the complaints brought into the office,"^ and that 
" they fuss over everything and tell their children not to take anything from a 
white child." They also cited cases of insolence and threats which appeared 
to be exceptional rather than typical. 

Some teachers said the reason they did not receive any co-operation from 
Negro mothers was because a large proportion of them were working. Tardi- 
ness and absence were due mainly to this cause, according to one principal, 
though a teacher of a room for retarded children in another school said there 
was little tardiness and practically no absence in her group. This teacher 
expressed the conviction, as did many others, that Negro parents were 
appreciative of school advantages and eager to have their children learn. 
Principals who came in contact with both Negro and foreign parents found 
the Negro parents much more interested and ambitious than the foreigners. 
Even the principal of a school 30 per cent Negro (Webster), who was somewhat 
prejudiced in her attitude toward Negroes in the school, said she had more 
Negro than white boys able to go to work whose parents wished them to remain 
in school. 

Negro teachers were apparently acceptable to Negro parents, only one 
of the principals or teachers interviewed reporting objections by Negro parents. 
One teacher in a school 30 per cent Negro (Webster) said that Negro parents 
had their children transferred there from schools with more Negroes, so that 
they would have white teachers. The district superintendent said he had had 
some difficulty in placing Negro teachers in Negro schools, which he attributed 
to the fact that Negro parents felt that Negro teachers had not had the same 
opportunity for thorough training as white teachers. Some Negro parents, 
however, had indicated that their attitude was not due to belief that Negro 
teachers were inadequately trained, but to fear that too general placing of 
Negro teachers over Negro pupils was a step toward segregation. 

The principal of a school 90 per cent Negro (Keith) thought Negro mothers 
preferred Negro teachers because several had said to her that the " colored 
teachers understand our children better." 

The district superintendent in the area including most of the schools 
largely attended by Negroes said that few requests for transfers were made 
during the year, but he believed more were made at the request of Negro 
than of white parents. A number of these Negro children transferred not to 
go to a school largely white but to a school 70 per cent Negro, because they 
said they were afraid to go to the school in their own district which was across 
Wentworth Avenue. The race feeling between certain groups in this district 
was very intense, according to the superintendent. It was especially violent 

' A preponderance of complaints from Negro parents could easily be accounted for by a 
high proportion of Negro pupils. 


between the Negro children and the Italians and between the Jews and the 
Bohemians. The principal of a school 93 per cent Negro (Raymond) also 
testified to the spirit of antagonism along Wentworth Avenue: 

Wentworth Avenue is the gang line. They seem to feel that trespass on either 
side of that Hne is ground for trouble. While they will admit colored members to 
the school without any trouble for manual training, they have to be escorted over the 
line, because of trouble, not from members of the school, but groups of boys outside 
the school. To illustrate: We took a kindergarten group over to the park. One 
little six-year-old girl was struck in the face by a man. The condition is a tradition. 
There does not seem to be any malice in it. "He is from the east side, " or "Hit him, 
he is from the West Side," are remarks frequently heard. 

Transfers from schools with a predominant Negro membership were 
reported by one or two principals and teachers in schools with a Negro minority, 
who said that the Negro mothers objected to having their children in schools 
"where there are so many common niggers." One of the principals said she 
had many requests from Negro mothers for transfers from the branch of the 
school with 90 per cent Negroes to the main school with 20 per cent. The 
Commission did not find in its inquiry among Negro mothers that such an 
objection was prevalent, but that most of the transfers requested were due to 
the reputation of the school for being overcrowded, poorly taught, and generally 
run down. 


Classroom and building contacts. — In the high schools the ordinary contacts 
in classes and about the building become subordinate to the more difficult 
problems created by the increased number of social activities — athletics, 
gymnasium exhibitions, clubs, and parties. 

The dean of Englewood High School, which has only about 6 per cent 
Negro children, said that the white and Negro children mingled freely with 
no sign of trouble or prejudice but thought that if more Negro children came 
to the school the spirit would change. A teacher in this same school who had 
formerly been at Wendell Phillips, where the majority are Negro, said that 
a spirit of friendliness had grown up there between the two races, and race 
distinction had disappeared. 

There was only one Negro teacher in the high schools of Chicago at the 
time of this investigation, the teacher of manual training at Wendell Phillips. 
He is a graduate of the University of Illinois and had substituted around 
Chicago for several years. Although they spoke very highly of him, none of the 
principals of three high schools with small Negro percentages and in which 
there were vacancies could use hun. The principal of Wendell Phillips, with 
a large proportion of Negroes, told, however, of a different experience when 
this teacher was at that school. " In answer to complaints by pupils I told 

O o 
CJ D. 



them that this man was a graduate of the University of Illinois, a high-school 
graduate in the city, and a cultured man. * Go in there and forget the color, 
and see if you can get the subject matter.' In the majority of cases it worked." 

Racial friction about the buildings and grounds was not reported by any 
of the high-school principals. "I have not known of a fight between a colored 
and a white boy in fifteen years," said the principal of Hyde Park. 

Two principals said that the Negro children voluntarily grouped them- 
selves at noon, either eating at tables by themselves in the lunchroom or bring- 
ing their own lunches and eating in the back part of the assembly hall. The 
gymnasium instructor at Wendell Phillips said that she had no difficulty in 
her work if she let the children arrange themselves. The gymnasium instructor 
at a school with a small proportion of Negroes said that the white girls had 
objected to going into the swimming-pool with Negro girls, but that she had 
gone in with the Negro girls, which had helped to remove the prejudice. 

Athletic teams. — In the field of athletics there seems to be no feeling between 
the white and Negro members of a school team, but the Negro members are 
sometimes roughly handled when the team plays other schools. "The basket- 
ball team is half and half, " said the principal of Wendell PhilUps. He reported 
some friction in previous years but said that " this year it is not shown at all." 
"They played a strenuous game with Englewood last week. A colored boy 
was roughly treated by the other team. Our white boys were ready to fight 
the whole Englewood team." 

The principal of Hyde Park High School also said that there was no 
feeling in his school against Negro members of athletic teams, and that he did 
not know of a single instance in which a Negro boy was kept off an athletic team 
if he was the best for the place. 

Two Seniors in a high school mainly white (Tilden) thus described the way 
they handled the Negro members of a visiting basket-ball team: 

On the way over here fellows on the outside bawled them out, but our fellows 
sure got them on the way home. There were three black fellows on the team and those 
three got just about laid out. Our team wouldn't play them, so there was a great 
old row. Then, when they went home some of our boys were waiting for them to 
come out of the building to give them a chase. The coons were afraid to come out, 
so poHcemen had to be called to take them to the car Une. The white fellows weren't 
hurt any, but the coons got some bricks. 

Transfers between high schools. — Requests for transfers from Wendell 
PhiUips to Englewood and Hyde Park schools had been made by both white 
and Negro children, according to the principals of the latter schools. The 
permits of the Negro children had frequently been revoked after they had 
been admitted to classes, and the children returned to Wendell PhilHps. 
A teacher at Wendell PhiUips pointed out the injustice of transferring a child 
in the middle of a term. After a child has been admitted to classes he should 


be permitted to remain through the semester, she beheved, for otherwise a 
full term's work was lost because the courses in the schools were different. 
"All this transferring is nonsense, anyway," she said. "Children should be 
made to go to school in the district where they live and that would end the 

This teacher told of an incident at Tilden School when a group of Negro 
boys registered for entrance: 

About sixty colored boys entered Tilden High School either for the regular 
high-school course or prevocational work and were thrown out by the Tilden boys. 
They made it so hot for the colored boys that the sixty had to withdraw. Some 
came back here; others dropped out of school entirely. It's pretty bad when one 
set of boys can put out another set and nothing is done to punish one and call back 
the other group. 

Two boys at Tilden who took part in this affair gave this version of the 

About thirty colored boys registered at Tilden last fall, but we cleaned up on them 
the first couple of days and they never showed up again. We didn't give them any 
peace in the locker room, basement, at noon hours, or between classes — told them to 
keep out of our way or we'd see they got out. The fellows who were in school before 
we didn't tackle — they know where they belong. There's one colored fellow in our 
class everybody likes. He's a smart nice fellow to talk to, and he doesn't stick around 
when you don't want him. He didn't say anything when we made the new coons 
step around, but I guess he didn't like it very well. 

It was this same group of boys who objected to playing a visiting basket- 
ball team with three Negroes on it and "just about laid them out." 

Social activities in high schools. — In high schools, with their older pupils, 
there is an increased race consciousness, and in the purely social activities 
such as clubs and dances, which are part of high-school life, there is none of 
the general mingling often found in semi-social activities such as singing and 
literary societies. Although Negro pupils do not share in the purely social 
activities, they do not organize such activities among themselves. 

"The colored never come to social affairs," said the dean of one school. 
"They are so much in the minority here that they leave all organizations to 
the whites." The principal of this school told of having seen two colored girls 
at a class party who danced together for a while and left. "It is the only 
time I've seen the two races at the same social gathering." 

The dean of Englewood said: "We have colored children in singing clubs, 
in the orchestra, in hterary societies, in class organizations, and on athletic 
teams. Always when there is a class party there will be five or six colored 
children. They will always dance together, but they are present and welcomed 
by the white. Between dances it is not uncommon to see white and colored 


An incident showing lack of feeling against individuals of special achieve- 
ment was given by the principal of this last school: 

Several years ago we organized a voluntary orchestra which met after school. The 
director accepted all applications, among them a number of colored boys. The white 
boys balked; it should be white membership or they woidd leave. As it was near 
the end of the year the orchestra was dissolved. The next year I suggested to the 
teacher that he fill the orchestra places by a general tryout, so understood, Tjut really 
with the pohcy of excluding the colored. This was done and a white orchestra 
organized. Shortly, the father of H. F., a colored boy who had been excluded, pro- 
tested in my office, saying that his boy had been excluded because of race preju- 
dice and that he was going to carry his protest to the Board of Education, for he 
knew his boy played better than any boy in school. I admitted that it was a 
choice in the school of white orchestra or no orchestra, but that if his boy was the 
fine musician he said he was I would gladly see what could be done. Soon after that 
H. appeared on a school program and played with remarkable skill and technique. 
He was applauded enthusiastically and recalled three times. Straightway the 
orchestra members asked him to play with them. He became unusually popular 
throughout the school. His standing was the highest and he was awarded a scholar- 
ship of $100 allowed by the Board of Education for the best student. He was also 
chosen to represent the school on the Northwestern University scholarship, and in 
his Freshman year he won another scholarship for the next year. The death of his 
parents made it necessary for him to leave college to support his brothers and sisters. 
At this time he was stricken with mfantile paralysis. The mterest on Liberty bonds 
taken out by the high school is paid in to H., and when the colored people gave a 
benefit for hun the pupils sold 500 tickets. He is knproving and teaching vioUn to 
thirty pupils at present. His sister is in the school now on a scholarship and is 
doing remarkably well also. 

At Wendell Phillips the situation was quite different, for there were no school 
or class social affairs which were general. There were invitational affairs 
to which the Negroes were not invited. All the clubs in the school were white, 
Negroes being excluded. The principal said he would not insist on mixed 
clubs until he saw the parents of the children mixing socially. The glee club 
was an especially difficult problem because of its semi-public as well as social 
character. The Negro children maintained that a glee club composed entirely 
of whites was not representative of a school in which the majority were Negroes. 
The Negroes had not responded to the suggestion of the principal that they 
form a glee club of their own, and as the white children would not be in a glee 
club with Negro children, there was constant friction over this club. 

Other principals expressed the conviction that the racial problem of school 
social affaks could not be solved until the prejudice and antagonism of adults 
had disappeared. One principal said he had had to call off an arrangement 
for a class affair because the hotel would not accommodate the Negroes. 
Another principal thought that the schools would not wait to follow the lead 
of the parents in forgetting the race prejudice but would themselves be the 
greatest factor in destroying it. 


Relations with parents. — In most cases the high schools were receiving 
splendid support from Negro parents in matters of discipline. "I have never 
had a case where the parent did not back up the teacher in the treatment 
given to a colored chOd," said one principal, speaking of cases where children 
had got into difi&culty when they complained that the teacher had "picked on 
them" because they were Negroes. The parents always made the child with- 
draw the statement and admit that the trouble was not due to color at all. 


Reports were received from three technical high schools, Lane, Tilden, 
and Lucy H. Flower. Lane and Tilden had few Negro students, while in 
Lucy H. Flower the Negroes were about 20 per cent. The principals of Lane 
and Tilden said they were not conscious of any racial difference in their pupils, 
that no special methods of instruction were necessary for the Negro children, 
that there were no quarrels with a racial background in the schools, and no 
voluntary or compulsory groupings of white and Negro. The principal of 
Lucy H. Flower found racial differences between the Negroes and whites 
which she beheved created special problems of education and disciphne. 
The children got along together very well in school, and whatever quarrels 
there were, the principal thought were due to personal dislikes rather than to 
race prejudice. The colored girls grouped themselves voluntarily at noon and 
at dismissal time, and the white girls did the same. 


With the assistance of the Board of Education a selection was made of 
three groups of schools to be studied for comparative retardation. The group 
comprised six schools having the largest percentage of Negro children, six at- 
tended mainly by whites in neighborhoods where the family income might be 
comparable, and twelve attended mainly by children of immigrants. Table XII 
gives the number and percentage of accelerated, normal, and retarded children 
for each school, for each group, and for the whole group of twenty-four schools. 

This table shows the much greater amount of retardation among schools 
attended by Negroes than in schools attended by white Americans or by 
children of immigrants. The percentage for the group attended by Negroes 
is 74, while for the different schools in the group it varies from 67 to 81. For 
the two groups of schools attended by white Americans the percentage of 
retardation is the same, 49, though there is greater variation among these 
schools than among the schools attended by Negroes. In the group attended 
by children of immigrants, for instance, only 32 per cent are retarded in the 
Jungman (Bohemian) School, while 71 per cent are retarded in the Holden 
(Polish) School. A similar discrepancy appears in the group attended by 



white Americans, where the figure is 40 per cent for the Armstrong School 

and 62 per cent for the Byford School. 


Number and Percentage of Children in Accelerated, Normal, and Retarded Grotjps 

IN Schools Attended Mainly by White Americans, by Negroes, and 

BY Children of Immigrants 


Attended mainly by white Ameri- 








Attended mainly by Negroes: 








Attended mainly by children of 








Italian : 

Goodrich ■ 



Jewish : 










Von Humboldt . 


Totals for three groups , 








































































1 , 200 













* The figures in this column represent children who were listed as being in "ungraded classes in the Board 
of Education records. They are not included with the column of "Retarded" children because the grades of the 
"Retarded" children were given in the board of Education records and were used in determining the amount these 
children were retarded (see Table XIV). The "Retarded Ungraded" children are included with the 'Retarded 
chilcken in determining the percentage of retarded children. 

The retardation figures for the group of twenty-four schools studied are 
close to those for the city at large, 53 per cent retarded in the special group 


and 51 per cent for the city at large. In the accelerated group the percentage 
of accelerated Negro children, 11, is smaller than the percentage of accelerated 
white children, 17, or the percentage of accelerated foreign children, 19. This 
variation is not so striking as that in the normal group where only 15 per cent 
of the Negro children appear to make normal progress as compared with 34 
per cent of the white children and 32 per cent of the foreign children. From 
this it would appear that there are factors in the lives of many Negro children 
which prevent them from making normal progress. 

The degree of retardation, as shown in Table XIII is again quite different 
for the white and Negro groups. 

The largest single groups of backward white American and foreign children 
are retarded less than one year (42 per cent of the white American and 39 
per cent of the foreign group), and the numbers decrease rapidly as the degree 
of retardation increases. In the case of the Negroes 19 per cent are retarded 
less than one year. The decrease as the degree of retardation increases is 
slower than in the white groups, and many more children are retarded two, 
three, four, five years and more. In the white American group only one child 
out of 3,439 retarded children is retarded five and one-half to six years, while 
there are forty-one in the corresponding Negro group out of a total of 4,412. 
One white child is retarded six and one-half to seven years, while seventeen 
Negro children are retarded this amount; twelve foreign children out of 
10,379 retarded children are retarded six to ten years, and thirty-seven 
Negro children are found in these groups. 

Though the main reasons for the high degree of retardation among Negro 
children are set forth in the next section under "Causes of Retardation," 
a partial explanation is to be found in the fact that Negro parents are frequently 
more interested in keeping their over-age children in school than white parents, 
especially foreign parents, whose anxiety to have their children leave school 
as soon as they are old enough to get work-permits is well known. 

Causes of retardation. — It is generally understood of course that comparisons 
of Negro with white children are hardly fair, since Negro children have not 
had the same opportunities as whites to make normal progress. 

A study was made of the reasons why children were retarded in the groups 
of schools attended mainly by Negroes, by white Americans, and by children 
of immigrants. Records were obtained at the schools for 1,469 Negro children 
and 1,560 white children who were listed according to the Board of Education's 
classification for retarded children. 

Table XIV shows clearly that the predominating cause of retardation among 
Negroes is late entrance, which, according to the board's classification, means 
that they did not enter school until more than six years of age. This is 
generally explained by the fact that the family came from the South, where 
there was no school near enough for the child to attend, or the school was 
overcrowded, or the family was uneducated and indifferent. In some cases 



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the parents have come North, leaving the child with grandparents who made 
no effort to see that it went to school. 

The next most important cause of retardation among the Negroes is family 
difficulties. The fathers are often kept away from home weeks at a time by 
their work. A large number of the mothers are working, and the parents' 
lack of education is frequently the cause of a home life that is below standard, 
physically and morally. 

Among the whites, late entrance, inability to speak the language, ill 
health, backwardness, and low mentality are the main causes of retardation. 
While it is often maintained that the Negro is the mental inferior of the white, 
these figures do not bear out that contention. Also the retardation figures 
do not show the home life of the Negroes to be productive of as much ill health 
as is the case with the whites. 

Approximately the same number of Negro and white children were retarded 
because of irregular attendance. 

In addition there were forty- two Negro children and 155 white children 
who were classified under two, three, or four different causes for retardation. 
Children who were late entering also had some physical diOiculty, or children 
who were retarded because of family difficulties were also of poor mental 
endowment. In some cases such double classification represented a realization 
by the teacher that retardation is a complicated and delicate thing which can- 
not be explained by one hard-and-fast reason. Others, finding it difficult to 
decide whether children were backward, of low mentality, or feeble-minded, 
classified them under all three causes. In two instances Negroes were found 
to be retarded because they were late entering and "foreign" — that is, they 
were handicapped by an "initial lack of the English language." 

Intensive study of 116 retarded Negro children. — The presence of retarded 
Negro children in the Chicago public schools within recent years has been 
regarded by many teachers and principals as a problem of Negro education. 
Some assume that this retardation is due to an inherent incapacity for normal 
grade work. Inquiries of the Commission early disclosed the fact that although 
the retardation rate of Negro children was higher than that of white, the great 
majority of the retarded Negroes were from southern states, and that Negro 
children born in the North had, as a rule, no higher rate of retardation than 
the whites. In the belief that the causes of retardation among Negro children 
could be found in the same factors of social background and environment 
which operates to retard white children, an intensive study was made of 116 
Negro children taken at random from among all the retarded Negro children 
in several schools to learn what elements in their former life and present 
home environment might explain their retardation. 

Out of the 116 children loi had been in school before coming to Chicago. 
Of these eighty-six had lived in the South and attended southern schools. 
Since this group was chosen at random, the large proportion from the South 


tends to bear out the statements of school principals and teachers that Negro 
children from the South constitute the bulk of retarded children. Previous 
school records were obtained for eighty-four of these eighty-six southern 
children, and in sixty-four cases the children were retarded when they came 
to Chicago. Many of them were retarded two and three years, and some 
three, four, five, and even six years. Forty-seven of the sixty-four were 
retarded more than one year. In a number of cases children who were in the 
normal grade for their age in the South were put back one or two grades when 
they entered Chicago schools because they were not equipped to do the work 
of this grade in the North. 

The states from which these children came are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, 
Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, 
Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Twenty-three of the eighty-six children who 
had lived in the South were from Mississippi — the largest group from any one 
state — and of these three were up with their normal grade, eleven were retarded 
three or four years, one was retarded six years, and one who was in the normal 
grade in the South was demoted two years. One reason for the poor record 
of these Mississippi children is undoubtedly to be found in that state's 
inadequate compulsory-education law which provides a school term of eighty 
days in districts which do not reject the law. Eight of the Mississippi children 
lived on plantations which were so far from school that regular attendance 
was impossible. 

Information gathered concerning the parents of these ii6 retarded children 
showed that in eighty-six cases the father was living with his family. In 
six cases the father was dead, in one case he was insane, in fifteen cases he had 
separated from or deserted the mother, and in eight cases there was no report 
on the father. 

The mother was found to be living with her family in 112 cases. In two 
cases the mother was dead, and in two cases she had deserted father and child. 

All of the eighty-six fathers who lived at home were working, though one 
was reported as working irregularly, and two as having deserted their wives 
occasionally for periods of several weeks. In two of the cases where the father 
had separated from the mother he was reported as contributing to the support 
of the child. 

In forty out of the eighty-six cases where the father was living at home and 
working, the mother was also working, and in the fifteen separation cases 
where the mother was supporting the child, she was working. The fact that 
a total of fifty-five out of 1 1 2 mothers, or 49 per cent, were working is undoubt- 
edly a large factor in the retardation of the children. The statement was 
frequently made by teachers that 40 or 50 per cent of the Negro mothers 
worked, and that the child was therefore neglected, and the teacher could 
get no co-operation from the mother, as she was never free to come to school 
to talk over matters affecting the child. 


Some teachers felt that many mothers worked where there was no economic 
necessity, as the father was earning enough to support the family. It should 
be noted in this connection that at the time this material was gathered there 
were more opportunities for work than there were men to fill them. Under 
ordinary conditions there would doubtless be a certain amount of unemploy- 
ment in these Negro families which would cause more mothers to work from 
economic necessity. Many of the families investigated, where both parents 
were working, were reported as getting on very well, though there were some 
cases of real poverty. In a number of instances the families could not seem 
to make ends meet on a good income because they were ignorant and did not 
know how to spend their money, or because they had not been able to adjust 
themselves to city life. 

Of the eighty-six fathers who were working, few were in skilled occupations 
which would command a substantial wage. Most of the mothers were engaged 
in work that took them away from home. A few did sewing, hairdressing, 
and laundry work in their homes, but the large majority went out to work. 
Work carried on in the home frequently has as bad an effect on the child's 

school attendance as the mother's absence, for the child is sometimes kept at 

home to help and often iinds the work more interesting than school. 

The following occupations of mothers of retarded children were noted: 

Day work 22 Car cleaner 

Stock Yards 12 Cleaning (hospital) 

Hairdresser 4 Dishwasher 

Laundry 4 Elevator 

Maid 4 Foundry 

Barrel factory 3 Housekeeper 

Seamstress 3 Lamp-shade factory 

Domestic service 2 Waist factory 

Box factory i 

Education of parents.— Oi the eighty-six fathers, thirty-one were illiterate, 
and forty-eight had gone to elementary school but had completed only the 
second, fourth, or sixth grade. Five of the fathers had gone to high school, 
and two were college graduates. 

The figures are slightly better for the mothers. Out of 112, twenty-one 
were totally illiterate, seventy-six had gone to elementary school, ten had been 
in high school or college, and five were not reported on. Eighty-eight per cent 
of the mothers, therefore, and 91 per cent of the fathers had less than a high- 
school education. Though there were many illiterate or poorly educated 
parents who were eager for their children to have advantages which they 
never had themselves, others, as in any illiterate group, no matter what the 
color, failed to appreciate the importance of school. 

Home discipline.— h number of teachers reported that they were unable 
to discipline the children in school because they were undisciplined at home. 


In seventy- three of the ii6 homes there was found to be discipline, in twenty- 
two a lack of discipline, and twenty were not reported on. Discipline seemed 
to be the responsibility of the mother in the large majority of cases, and many 
of the twenty-two undisciplined children were boys who were beyond the 
control of the mother. In every case but four where there was no discipline 
the mother was working, so that the child did not receive much care during 
the daytime and the mother was too tired to bother about discipline at night. 
Lack of discipline can also be traced to the fact that the child has not always 
lived with the parents but with relatives who have been lax in the matter of 

Home care. — The physical condition of the home, the preparation and 
substance of the meals, may be expected to affect a child's health and therefore 
his attendance at school. The homes of eighty-four children were reported 
to be clean and twenty-five not clean, while seven were not reported on. In 
twenty-one cases out of the twenty-five reported not clean, the mother was 
working. In forty-seven cases out of the eighty-four reported clean the mother 
was working. In many of the forty-seven cases there was an aunt or grand- 
mother who took care of the house. 

In many homes the ignorance of the parents was obviously responsible 
for failure to provide the kind of food adapted to the needs of the children. 
A great deal of fresh meat, usually pork and bacon, potatoes, rice, and coffee 
were the staples, while green vegetable, fruits, cereals, and milk were noticeably 
lacking. Also, when the mother is away all day the food is hastily prepared, 
which usually means that it is fried. The girl who gets home from school before 
her mother has finished her day's work usually starts the dinner, or brings some- 
thing from the delicatessen. Many children are given twenty-five cents with 
which to buy lunch, and in three extreme cases the children were given money 
to buy all their meals, with no supervision over what they ate. 

Difficulty of adjustment. — When all the causes contributing to retardation 
were taken into consideration in the histories of the ii6 retarded children 
studied, it was still obvious that the greatest stumbling-block to normal prog- 
ress was previous residence in the South. The retardation of children from 
the South is explained in a variety of ways. 

Some of the children from the South did not get along well because they 
had not been able to adjust themselves to city life. They had been ac- 
customed to the freedom and outdoor life of the farm and did not like the 
confined life of the city. They felt timid and shy in the midst of so many 
people, as they did not come much in contact with people when they lived 
on southern farms four or five mUes from the nearest town. Most of these 
children had never gone to school for more than a few months at a time, either 
because the school term was short or they lived too far from the school to 
attend regularly. Consequently some of them found the nine months' term 


Demotion. — A number of children were found to be over-aged for their 
grades because they had been demoted one or two years when they came to 
Chicago. Some of these had gone to school regularly in the South and 
were of normal age for their grades, but the school term was so short that 
it was impossible for them to complete the same amount of work in the 
same number of years as children in northern schools. Children who were 
in the fifth or fourth grade in the South had been put back to the third or second 
grade on entering Chicago schools. This sometimes discouraged them so 
much that they dropped out of school on reaching fourteen, the age limit of the 
compulsory-education law. 

Inadequate schools. — Overcrowded and poorly taught schools also are 
responsible for the retardation of southern Negro children. One girl attended 
a school which was in session only three months a year and where there were 
100 to 125 children under one teacher. Consequently this girl was retarded 
four years. A boy who, when he came to Chicago, was fifteen years old and 
six years behind his grade had always lived in small country towns in the South. 
In one of these his teacher was the iceman. "He didn't come to school until 
he was through totin' ice around," said the boy. "Then if anyone wanted 
ice they comed after him. He wasn't learning me anything so I quit." This 
boy was found to be ambitious and was attending school regularly in Chicago 
in spite of the fact that he was conspicuously over-age for his grade. 

Other causes 0} retardation. — Some over-age children are extremely sensitive 
about their size and are irregular at school on this account. A fifteen-year-old 
boy who was 5 feet 8 inches tall was in the fifth grade. He refused to go to 
school because he was larger than anyone in his class. At one time he was so 
ashamed of being seen in the room with smaller children that he would go out 
of the classroom every time a girl passed the door. 

As in many white families where the importance of regular school attend- 
ance is not fully understood, work at home or work after school hours is some- 
times permitted to interfere materially with school attendance. Older children 
are kept at home to look after young children while the parents are away at 
work and sometimes when the mother is home. A fourteen-year-old girl who 
was three years retarded had always been kept out of school to do housework. 
The five younger children were all in the normal grades for their ages but the 
fourteen-year-old girl had been out of school so much she had lost interest. 
Other children were working after school hours selling papers and delivering 
packages and wanted to leave school as soon as possible so that they could 
work all the time. 

The attitude of the teacher seemed in a few instances to be responsible 
for the child's lack of interest. In one case the teacher threw a paper at a 
boy instead of handing it to him, and the boy had refused to recite to her 
ever since. He went to school but recited to his mother at home. Another 
boy had been kept back in school by a misunderstanding between his mother 


and the principal. The principal took the boy home with her to do some work 
around her house and kept him until nine o'clock. The mother became so 
worried she had the police out looking for him. When she found out the cause 
of his lateness coming home, she went to the school and threatened the principal. 
The principal afterward refused either to promote the boy or transfer him to 
another school. 

Recreation. — A study of the favorite forms of recreation among ii6 children, 
aside from the few who reported that they had no time to play, showed the 
movies to be in the lead. Children economized on lunch, buying potato salad 
and pickles, in order to have enough left from their lunch money to go to the 
movies. One boy who worked outside of school hours made $3 to $5 a week 
and spent most of it on the movies; he went three or four times a day if he had 
the money. A few children played truant in order to go to the movies. 

Favorite Recreation of 116 Retarded Negro Children 

Movies 85 

Baseball 32 

Reading 31 

Marbles 29 

Skating 20 

Jumping rope 11 

Music 6 

Jacks 6 

Vaudeville 5 

Running games 4 

Singing games 4 

Sewing 3 

Basket-ball 2 

Target practice 


Mechanical toys : . . . . 






Rolling hoop 

Card games, checkers, etc 

Total 248 

Most of these children had two and even three forms of recreation, and the 
second was usually some form of outdoor recreation — baseball, marbles, or 
jumping rope. Most of the younger ones went to the playgrounds, except 
those who had housework to do or the few who did not care to associate with 
other children. 


A reference to the section on "Recreation" will show that Negro children 
are limited in their recreational activities by lack of recreation centers where 
they are welcome. There are playgrounds for the younger children in the 
areas of Negro residence, but no recreation centers with their varied indoor 
facilities for the older children. 


Progress of the southern Negro. — The retarded Negro child, usually from 
the South, who is conspicuous in the elementary schools, has been referred to 
in the section on "Retardation in Elementary Schools." In some schools 
such children are put in the regular grades, where they receive no special 
attention and can progress only one year at a time, though most teachers agree 
that retardation is due to lack of educational opportunity rather than to 
inability to learn. In other schools there are special rooms for these children 
where they are advanced through several grades as rapidly as possible. 

Doolittle School (85 per cent) had six first-grade rooms for such children. 
In one of these rooms there were about twenty-five children from twelve to 
seventeen years of age doing all the lower-grade work up to the sixth. The 
teacher said that many of these children who were unable to read or write 
when they came from the South showed remarkable progress in a few months, 
and in less than a year were able to do fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade work. 

"One big girl of thirteen, when she arrived from the South," this teacher 
said, "pretended to read with her book upside down, but in a Uttle more than 
a year she was doing sixth-grade work. One twelve-year-old boy from the 
South, unable to read the primer or write his name, after about nine months 
of applied work just ate up everything I gave him and during the following 
year read sixty Hbrary books." 

A thirteen-year-old girl, just five days in the school, had come from 
Alabama, where she had never attended school. " There wasn't room for me, " 
she explained. She read for the investigator on the tenth page of the primer, 
haltingly but with understanding. The teacher was confident that she 
could put her through several grades next year. She said further: 

These children who have been deprived in the South of their rights educationally 
are very eager. At first they are timid, but they learn very quickly. They're as 
smart as whips if they'd just get down to business. Without question this is the kind 
of attention aU the colored children from the South need when they enter school in 
the North. The plan has been successful and should be adopted throughout the school 
system. One appreciates by comparison the injustice of putting the fifteen-year-old 
newcomer from the South into second grade, requiring of him only second-grade 
work over the nine months' period. 

Another school, 92 per cent Negro (Farren), has a special room for children 
from the South. "Our duU children are almost without exception those 
from the South who have never been to school," said the teacher. "Those 


children should not be classed as dull, either, for they learn remarkably fast 
and often catch up to grade." 

A teacher of the ungraded room in a school 38 per cent Negro (Forrestville) 

Practically all of the colored children are from the South, where they have not 
been in school. Once they get started they learn very rapidly and often catch up 
to the proper grade if they are not too old when they start school. The older children 
in this room have good power of concentration and consequently learn much in a short 
time. Take, for example, a boy twelve years old who came here not two months ago 
from the South. When he came he had no idea how to write his name. A few days 
ago he wrote for me a fourth-grade eight-Hne memory passage with but three mistakes 
in spelling. Now I call that remarkable. I have taught in this school all my teaching 
years, and they have been many, and have never seen any child equal this, either 
white or black. 

Capacity for advanced work. — Teachers in the seventh and eighth grades 
usually found Negro children equal to the work, though in some cases they 
felt that these children had been pushed out of the lower grade because of 
crowded conditions before they were ready for the more advanced work. 
An eighth-grade teacher gave the following statement: 

When children get this far they have a good foundation and do their work very 
well. One of my colored girls is the brightest chUd in school — arithmetic is hard for 
her but she works at it. One of my colored boys is seventeen years old. He came 
here from the South last fall to live with an uncle and to get to a better school. His 
father wants him to be a doctor and thought he wasn't getting along as well in the 
South as he would in the North. When the boy came to me he said he had been going 
to a college^ in the South. I took him into the eighth grade but saw he didn't have 
the fundamentals. On close questioning he told me he had been in the seventh 
grade in that college. Now he is doing excellent work for me. He has much broader 
interests than the other children. He reads, reads, reads, all the time and is well 

Other teachers believed that there was nothing to keep the Negro children 
from making equal progress with the white, given similar opportunities. 
"The progress of the colored children in Drake school (30 per cent) cannot 
be compared with that of the white," said an upper-grade teacher, "because 
the colored are all from the South and have had the poorest opportunities. 
But comparing a Negro child and a white child who have had the same advan- 
tages in school and equal opportunities for observation and example in the 
home, the Negro makes the same progress." 

" I say that under the same conditions a Negro child will do as well every 
time as a white," said the teacher of an ungraded room in a school 38 per cent 
Negro (ForrestviUe). Many do as well as the white and live in very poor 

'Many so-called southern "colleges" include elementary and high school, as well as 
college work. The term is general and does not mean necessarily an institution of the same 
academic standing as a northern college. 


neglected homes. I think every person who is not prejudiced must admit that 
the colored do fully as well in school as the white." 

An upper-grade teacher in the Felsenthal School (20 per cent) held a 
similar point of view: "The colored are making wonderful strides. They 
advance just as rapidly as the white, given equal opportunities. But their 
background is so slight and so short in years that one cannot fairly compare 
them. The southern colored child must be studied mdividually to get his point 
of view in the school or he gets nowhere in his work." 

High-school work.—Th& principal of Wendell Phillips High School prepared 
tables showmg the numbers of white and Negro children dropping out at the 
end of each school year. They show that the largest number of Negro children 
dropped out durmg the first year, and the largest number of white children 
during the first and second years, the number of drop-outs being the same 
for both years. Some children repeat the work so that all of them do not 
leave school. 

One or two teachers in other schools stated concerning Negro children 
that a "very limited number go beyond the first year." "They cannot grasp 
the subject," said an English teacher; "they do not understand as the white 
child does. They lack the mentality." 

In the same school the Latin teacher held quite the opposite opinion. 
"The colored children are in every way equal to the white children. They are 
just as well equipped mentally and make similar progress. My best student 
at present is a colored girl. Her choice of English and her vocabulary and 
construction are far ahead of that of any white student." 

Several teachers and principals testified to the brilliancy of individual 
Negro students who not infrequently had the highest standing in the school. 
The principal of an elementary school (Crerar) who had formerly had experience 
in a school largely Negro felt that the junior high school would meet the needs 
of the Negro children to a large degree: 

More of them than the immigrant enter high school but do not stay to finish. 
I suppose the parents insist upon some high-school training, but it is necessary 
for the child to go to work before he finishes. Another reason for the dropping out 
might be the teachers' lack of interest in the child. In the high school you don't 
find the teachers taking a keen interest in every individual child as you do in the grades, 
and just what colored children need is a keen interest in them. They do better work. 

Academic v. other courses. — A preference of Negro children for academic 
work was reported by principals and teachers at two high schools. This may 
be due in part to the fact, testified to by many teachers, that Negro children 
excel in languages and music and find mathematics and sciences difl&cult. 
The usual implication was, however, that Negro children took academic work 
because they thought it gave them better social standing. A principal who 
said that "Negroes want to know nothing about mdustrial training" and 
that " the girls don't care for sewing and cooking, " said on another occasion 


that the majority of children in auto-mechanics, printing, and household arts 
were Negroes. He also reported more Negro than white children in the normal 
course preparing themselves to be teachers, though this was the first year 
that this had been the case. 

Comparative scholarship in elementary schools. — Negro children are reported 
to be slower than the Jews, less responsive than the Bohemians, and more 
ambitious than the Italians. A manual- training and domestic-arts teacher 
thought Negroes did as good work as the Jews, Bohemians, and white Americans 
whom he taught. A Latin teacher said that the Negroes were studious and 
ambitious, and that in every way she preferred them to the Jews. 

Several teachers thought the Negroes were slow and lacked logic and 
"sticking qualities." An upper-grade teacher explained the slowness as 
partly due to the fact that they had been pushed out of the crowded lower 
grades before they were ready for more advanced work. A physics teacher 
who was convinced that Negro children had no ambition said it was his 
policy to promote a Negro child if the child had made the effort, because he 
appreciated that the child had come "to the limit of his mental ability." 

The principal who said that Negroes had no "sticking qualities" gave 
a single instance of a boy who wanted to become a mechanical engineer but 
gave up the course after five months, because he said he did not care enough 
about the course to work at it for several years. In endeavoring to prove 
that Negro children are not successful in completing high-school work, this 
principal emphasized the fact that in the 3-B class 20 per cent of the Negroes 
dropped out as compared with 6 per cent of the whites. In actual numbers 
three Negroes and two whites dropped out. He did not mention that in the 
2-A class 12 per cent of the whites (sixteen children) as compared with 3 per 
cent of the Negroes (three children) dropped out. In the 4-B grade 21 per 
cent of the whites (three children) and none of the Negroes dropped out. 
The fact that 21 per cent of the whites dropped out was explained by the 
principal to be due to the fact that the white children wished to graduate 
from a high school wholly white. However, only three children were involved. 

Attendance and failures. — Table XVI shows the record for attendance and 
failures in three groups of schools attended mainly by Negroes, by children 
of immigrants and by white Americans. It will be noticed that the best 
attendance records are found in Douglas and Farren schools, both mainly 
attended by Negroes. The other schools, attended mainly by Negroes, 
compare favorably with those attended by whites. 

The smallest percentage of failures is at Colman (92 per cent), while the 
next to the largest percentage is also at a school attended mainly by Negroes 
(Raymond, 93 per cent). This may be explained to a certain extent by the 
fact that there is a higher economic class of Negroes in the neighborhood of 
the Colman School. In the other schools the percentage of failures compares 
very favorably with that of whites. 




Enrolment, Average Attendance, and Number of Failures in Twenty Schools 











Attended mainly by Negroes: 

Colman, 92 per cent 

Doolittle, 85 per cent 

Douglas, 93 per cent 

Farren, 92 per cent 

Forrestville, 38 per cent 

Haven, 20 per cent 

McCosh, 15 per cent 

Moseley, 70 per cent 

Raymond, 93 per cent 

Webster, 30 per cent 

Attended mainly by children of immigrants: 









Attended mainly by white Americans: 









1 ,106 


I, 282 








































II. 6 

16. 1 





In studying contacts betvi^een the races at places of recreation a survey 
was made of the various recreational facilities maintained by the Municipal 
Bureau of Parks, Playgrounds, and Bathing Beaches, the South Park Commis- 
sion, the West Chicago Park Commission, and the Lincoln Park Commission. 
Recreational facilities maintained by twelve park boards which control smaller 
areas in outlying parts of the city were not included in the survey unless they 
were in or near Negro areas. Visits were made by the Commission's investi- 
gator to places in or bordering on the Negro areas at a time of day when the 
use of the park would be greatest; the director or one of his assistants was 
interviewed and observations were made as to the relations between Negroes 
and whites. 

The information thus gathered was supplemented by a conference held 
by the Commission, at which representatives of the various park boards 
discussed policies and experiences with reference to race relations in the various 
recreation places under their charge. 


Although there is no definite city-wide classification, the publicly mam- 
tained recreation facilities of the city may, for the purpose of this study, be 
grouped by types and defined as follows: 



1. Playground. — ^A small tract of land, usually adjacent to public schools, 
providing space for ball games, gymnastic and play apparatus, and in most 
cases a small building used as an office and storage place for apparatus. 

2. Recreation center. — Including outdoor and indoor gymnasivuns for men, 
women, and children, a swimming-pool, and a little children's playground 
out doors, and a field house providing an assembly room and dance hall, club- 
rooms, shower baths, and often an infant-welfare station and branch library. 

3. Large park. — A large area with lawns, shrubbery, and general recreation 
facilities, such as tennis, golf, baseball, and boating. 

4. Bathing-beach. — Intended primarily for swimmers and usually including 
no other recreation equipment. A dressing-house, showers, and towel supply 
are provided with life guard and attendants on duty. 

5. Swimming-pool. — In some instances a swimming-pool or natatorium 
is maintained separately from a recreation center. 


Of a total of 127 public places of recreation excluding the large parks, 
thirty-seven are in or near Negro areas. Of the eighty-two playgrounds, 
fourteen are in the Negro areas and nine are adjacent. Of the twenty-nine 
recreation centers, none is located within the Negro areas, but seven are 

Though these figures seem to indicate that the Negro areas are fairly 
well supplied with recreation facilities, it should be borne in mind that their 
use by the Negroes in their vicinity is by no means free and undisputed. The 
reasons for this are shown in the next section on "Use of Facilities," but the 
following summary of use will aid in considering the distribution of recreation 
facilities in relation to the Negro areas: 

Total for 

In Negro 

Near Negro 

Number Used 

10 Per Cent 

or More by 



Recreation centers 
Bathing-beaches. . 







The type of recreation facility most commonly found in the Negro areas 
is the playground. The lack of recreation centers within the Negro areas is 
conspicuous, as is also the fact that six of the seven recreation centers accessible 
to Negroes are not used as much as 10 per cent by them. The playground is 
intended for the use of young children and has practically nothing to attract 
older children and adults, except sometimes a baseball or athletic field. Indoor 
facilities are not a part of the equipment of a playground, so that the average 
maintenance cost of a playground is not more than $2,000 to $5,000 a year.^ 

' See illustration facing this page. 

? I ! 

J ' J t < i 'i 

U H 1 Ij 


• — Playgrounds 

■ — Recreation Centers 

O - Swimming Pools 

5 -■■- Bathing Deacmes 



r^^ > 


The recreation center is the most unusual and notable feature of Chicago's 
recreation system but one from which the Negro gets little benefit. It is a 
complete community center, with both indoor and outdoor facilities. It 
represents an investment of from $200,000 to $800,000, according to the 
amount of ground, the location, and the extent of its facilities. The yearly 
expenditure necessary to maintain such a recreation center where older children 
and adults can hold meetings, dances, and entertainments, and where there 
are concerts, indoor games, swimming-pools, showers, etc., is shown by the 
reports of the park boards to be from $30,000 to $50,000. Though the argu- 
ment that wholesome recreation makes for better citizenship applies to Negroes 
as well as to whites, no recreation center has been located within the Negro 
areas and only seven near them.^ 

The director of Armour Square, a recreation center which is just beyond 
the edge of the main Negro area, but which the Negroes do not feel free to 
use for reasons discussed later, was asked what places of recreation for adult 
Negroes existed in that neighborhood. She instanced a social settlement 
that had been out of existence for more than six years, an infant-welfare station 
and a commercial amusement park known to be in bad repute. 

Although in recent years the Negro population has been increasing in 
density in the neighborhood directly east of Wentworth Avenue along which 
Hardin, Armour, and Fuller recreation centers are located, this has not increased 
the use of these centers by Negroes. It has tended, rather, to increase the 
antagonism of the whites m the vicinity to the use of the centers by Negroes. 
In this neighborhood the hostility toward Negroes of whites, especially gangs 
of hoodlums, is shown by the many attacks upon Negroes in this area as dis- 
cussed in the sections on the "Riot of 1919" and "Antecedent Clashes." 

Several representatives of the park boards strongly deprecated the lack 
of recreation centers within the Negro area and said that such facilities should 
be provided. The South Park representative recommended the area east of 
Wentworth Avenue between Thirtieth and Forty-seventh streets as one 
needing additional facilities. The West Park representative said : " A complete 
all-year-round recreation center for the colored people should be established 
at Ashland and Lake streets. We need greater facilities, or equal facilities, 
for the colored people. There isn't any place on the West Side that I know of, 
but yet we have many of these complete recreation centers there for the whites." 
Although the Negroes on the West Side had never asked for additional facilities, 
the white people in that neighborhood had frequently asked the West Park 
Commission to provide greater facilities for the Negroes. The Negroes in 
the district were not organized, according to the West Park ofl&cial, but the 
white people realized that something ought to be done for the Negroes and 
made the request. 

The director of Seward Park said the maintenance cost was the chief 
obstacle to additional recreational facilities. "The law permits acquisition 


of property for small parks by request of citizens and bond issues for the 
purchase of the property and its development," he said. "When it comes to 
maintenance the question of taxes comes in, and unless people are willing to be 
taxed in excess of what they are taxed now, there won't be any possibility 
of maintaining more parks." 

Though there are three public bathing-beaches near the main Negro area, 
the whites seem to expect Negroes to confine themselves to the Twenty-sixth 
Street Beach. It is quite limited and unattractive in approach and surround- 
ings. The approach is over a rough road through a much-neglected neighbor- 
hood, and then up a long flight of stairs to a four-foot viaduct over the railroad 
tracks, and a roundhouse and switch yards are near by. The beach is a strip 
of sand about fifty feet wide and a short block in length; it narrows at one 
end to the tracks and at the other end is walled by a high embankment. 
While it offers a chance to get into the lake, the atmosphere of wholesome, 
recreative outdoor life is entirely lacking. 

In the Morgan Park region there is a large Negro population but no park 
or playground within its Negro area. Barnard Playground and Ridge Park 
are the nearest facilities, a mile or more distant. Negro children said they 
did not go there because "those are in Beverley Hills and only rich folks go 
there — no colored people." The directors of these parks said there was no 
discrimination against Negroes but that they did not come because they felt 
that these parks were "for white folks only." 


Table XVII gives estimates by the o£5cers in charge of the Negro attendance 
at the places of recreation in or near the Negro areas. 

Factors influencing attendance. — Out of the thirty-five playgrounds, recrea- 
tion centers, and bathing-beaches in or near the Negro areas for which attend- 
ance figures were secured, at fifteen Negro attendance never amounted to 
more than lo per cent, and usually was less. In several cases distance or such 
barriers as railroad tracks seemed to explain the small percentage of Negro 
patrons. In other cases it seemed due to the existence of other facilities nearer 
the center of the Negro area which were more largely patronized by the Negroes ; 
an example is Stanton, which though not far from the Negro area is farther 
than Seward Park. The small number of Negroes at other places often could 
not be explained by the director. At Gladstone Playground, for example, in a 
neighborhood where the Negro population was increasing rapidly, practically 
no Negro children were found, though the white children said there were 
plenty of Negro children in the school. "They don't stick around after 
school hours or in the summer," said the children, but no one appeared to 
know why this was the case, as there had never been any difl&culty at this 
playground. Negro children used Drake and Sherwood playgrounds much 




Number of Negroes Attending Parks and Playgrounds in or near Negro Areas 
AND Their Percentage of the Total Attendance 


South Side District: 

Twenty-sixth St. Beach. 
Thirty-eighth St. Beach. 
Fifty- first St. Beach.. . . 

Moseley Playground, Twenty-fourth St. 

and Wabash Ave 

Colman Playground, Forty-sixth and 

Dearborn Sts 

Doolittle Playground, Thirty-fifth St. 

near Rhodes Ave 

Oakland Playground, Fortieth St. and 

Langley Ave 

Beutner Playground, Thirty-third St. and 

LaSalle St 

Sherwood Playground, Fifty-seventh St 

and Princeton Ave 

Drake Playground, Twenty-seventh St. 

and Calumet Ave 

McCosh Playground, Sixty-sixth St. and 

Champlain Ave 

Carter Playground, Fifty-eighth St. and 

Michigan Ave 

Fiske Playground, Sixty-second St. and 

Ingleside Ave 

Average Daily 


Fuller Park Recreation Center, Forty^ 
fifth St. and Princeton Ave 

Armour Square Recreation Center 
Thirty-third St. and Shields Ave 

Hardin Square Recreation Center 
Twenty-sixth St. and Wentworth Ave 

Washington Park . 
Jackson Park 

Ogden Park District: 

Copernicus Playground, Sixtieth and 

Throop Sts 

Ogden Park Recreation Center, Sixty 

fourth St. and Racine Ave 

South Chicago District: 
Thorp Playground, Eighty-ninth St. and 
Buffalo Ave 

West Side District: 

Robey Playground, Birch and Robey Sts 
Mitchell Playground, Oakley Ave. and 

Ohio St 

Washington Playground, Grand Ave. and 

Carpenter St 
















Percentage of Total 
Daily Attendance 













Less than i 
Less than i 







Less than i 




TABLE XVIl— Continued 

Average Daily 

Percentage of Total 
Daily Attendance 








West Side District — CotiL: 

Otis Playground, Grand Ave. and Armour 



McLaren Playground, Polk, and Laflin 





Gladstone Playground, Robey St. and 
Washburne Ave 


Hayes Playground, Levitt and Fulton 

Union Park Playground, Washington St. 
and Ashland Blvd 






North Side District: 
Northwestern Playground, Larrabee and 
Alaska Sts 

Orleans Playground, Orleans St. and 
Institute PI 




Franklin Playground, Sigel St. near Wells 


Seward Park Recreation Center, Elm and 
Sedgwick Sts 




Stanton Park Recreation Center, Vine 
and Rees Sts 

Maximum attendance, 100,400. Negroes approximately, 19,000.* 

*0f these about 200 use the beaches, 4,100 the playgrounds, 700 the recreation centers, and 14,000 
the large parks. 

less, or not at all, after school hours and in summer. At Drake, though the 
two races mingled in games in the daytime and no disorders had occurred, 
the Negro boys took no part in the games in the evening when the older white 
boys were home. This, the director said, was due not to timidity or fear of 
aggression, but rather to "lack of ambition." At Sherwood Playground, 
west of Wentworth Avenue, where 50 per cent of the children using the play- 
ground during school hours were Negroes, there were no Negroes on the 
playground in the afternoon and evening and all summer. This was said 
to be due to the fact that the Negro children in the school, especially the girls, 
were larger than the white children and during the school session were the 
dominating group. After school, however, the older white children got home 
from other schools or from work and assumed control, allowing no Negroes in 
the playground. The Negroes then went to Carter Playground, which is 
east of Wentworth Avenue, in the main Negro settlement. This separation, 
the attendant stated, was due entirely to action on the part of the children, as 
the ofl&cials did not discriminate in any way. This neighborhood has been 
much disturbed and is discussed in more detail under " Contacts." 

^^^■- LIBRARY 




Representatives of each park commission said that they had no rules 
or regulations of any kind discriminating against Negroes, and that all races 
were treated in exactly the same way. The only case in which this rule 
appeared to be violated was in connection with Negro golf players at Jackson 
Park. Two Negroes participated in the Amateur Golf Tournament at Jackson 
Park in the summer of 1918 and made good records. The only requirement 
for entrance into the tournament at that time was residence in the city for one 
year. In 1919 the requirements were increased, entries being limited to the 
lowest sixty-four scores, and membership in a "regularly organized goK club" 
being required. Since Negroes are not accepted in established golf clubs, the 
Negro goh players met this qualification by organizing a new club, "The 
Wmdy City Goh Association." In 1920 the restriction was added that contest- 
ants must belong to a regularly organized golf club afl&liated with the Western 
Golf Association. As it was impossible for Negro clubs to secure such affiha- 
tion, it is impossible for Negroes to compete in the tournament. 

UnoflEicial discrimination, however, frequently creeps in. According to the 
representative of the Municipal Bureau, " the person in charge of the park is 
largely influenced by the attitude of the people outside the park. We had 
trouble at Beutner Playground because of the tendency on the part of the 
director, who was a white man, to be influenced by the attitude of the white 
people in the neighborhood, and either consciously or unconsciously showed by 
his actions to the colored people that they were not fully accepted." Beutner 
Playground later became an example of unofficial discrimuiation in favor of 
the Negroes, for the Municipal Bureau decided to " turn over the playground 
particularly to Negroes" and instructed the director " to give them more use of 
the facilities than the whites." But this was found to be impossible as long as 
a white director was employed, because he was influenced by the feehng of 
the whites in the neighborhood who did not want the playground turned over 
to the Negroes. The desired result was finally obtained by employmg a 
Negro director. "Then the switch suddenly came," said the park represent- 
ative, "and the playground was turned over to the Negroes almost exclu- 

A similar method was employed with reference to the Twenty-sixth Street 
Beach, according to the head of the Municipal Bureau, who said: "As the 
colored population gradually got heavier and more demand came for the use 
of that beach it gradually developed into a beach that was used almost exclu- 
sively by Negroes. And we did as we did in the Beutner case: we employed 
a Negro dhector when the preponderance was Negro." 

This beach has since been transferred to the South Park Commission, 
and there is no longer a Negro director there, though most of the attendants 
are Negroes. 

Park policemen will not let Negroes go in swimming at the Thirty-eighth 
Street Beach, according to a Negro playground director. " The park policemen 


tell you, 'You can't go in, you better not go in, I'd advise you not to go in,'" 
said the director. "If you try to go in he keeps you out." 

The Negro director of Beutner Playground reported an unpleasant personal 
encounter with the policeman of Armour Square. " Last summer I had occasion 
to go over there with my assistant who is colored. We went to the library 
and the park police officer we met said, 'niggers ought to stay in Beutner 
Park.'" Policemen in Armour Square also had helped to drive out Negro 
boys who had gone over there to use the showers, according to this director. 
In addition he said that Negro boys had been refused permits to play baseball 
at Armour Square. The director of the park said, in answer to these state- 
ments, that there was no discrimination on the part of the management and 
if such things had occurred it was without the knowledge of the management 
and due to the fact that the applicants did not see anyone in authority. " The 
only applicants I have had for a colored baseball team this year was for an 
outside industrial team, and they were given permission," said the director. 
"Whether the police officer followed them up and told them they shouldn't 
come back, I don't know, but they didn't come back. I gave them the permit 
to come." 

At one or two parks definite efforts had been made to encourage larger 
numbers of Negroes to make use of the facilities, but at Armour Square the 
director did not believe this to be advisable. "I have never gone out to do 
any promotional work to bring them in, " she said, "because I would not choose 
personally to be responsible for the things that would happen outside my 
gates if I were responsible for bringing large groups into Armour Square. 
If such groups come to me for reservations I give them, but they don't come." 
This director also said that she would feel it necessary to warn any Negro 
group that might come to her park that she could not be responsible for their 
protection outside the park. 

At Union Park, which has a playground and swimming-pool and is situated 
on the edge of the densest Negro residential area on the West Side, every effort 
has been made to encourage the Negroes of the neighborhood to make use of 
the limited facilities, according to the representative of the West Chicago 
Park Commission, who said: 

We have advertised among the colored people and done everything we could 
to get them to use the swimming-pool, shower baths, and reading-room, and send their 
children to the playground. The result to some extent is satisfactory but of course 
they are not using it in proportion to the population of the Negroes in that neighbor- 
hood. That, I think, is partly due to the fact that we ought to have some other 
facilities there. We ought to have some equipment for boys over sixteen years of 
age, and we ought to have an assembly hall, a regular library, clubrooms, and other 
facilities for the recreation of older boys and girls. 

The director of Fuller Park told of a special effort he had made, with the 
assistance of a Y.M.C.A. physical instructor, a Negro, to increase the use of 


the park by Negroes living east of Wentworth Avenue. The Y.M.CA. 
instructor guaranteed to get the people, and 400 application blanks were 
distributed among Negro children in the Sunday schools of the neighborhood. 
All the blanks were signed with the names of Negro children between eight 
and sixteen and returned to the office. When the classes started a few weeks 
later, no Negro children appeared. The distributor of the blanks tried for 
three or four weeks to find out why the Negro children did not come but 
failed to discover any reason. Then the director sent a notice to the Defender, 
a widely circulated Negro newspaper, saying that the children who had signed 
application blanks for classes at Fuller Park were requested to come at any 
time and were just as welcome as white children. Thereupon a few children 
came — two or three out of a class of thirty. Additional notices were put 
in the Defender, and an effort was made to interest the Negro pastors, but the 
attendance did not increase, and finally the attempt was given up for that year. 
The next year a similar efifort was made but with only slightly better results. 
At the band concerts and moving pictures the Negro attendance is fairly good, 
and a large number of Negroes use the library, but the gymnasium and the 
children's playground are used very little by the Negroes, and the swimming- 
pool practically not at all. 

The reasons advanced by the park officials for the non-use of convenient 
recreation facilities are that the Negro is timid and reluctant to go where he 
feels he is not wanted, or that he fears attack in the park or near it. At a 
conference the West Park representative said: 

When we first opened the doors of Union Park we thought, owing to the large 
colored population in the district, that the colored people would come there most 
willingly and avail themselves of the faciUties just as freely as any person would. 
But we found that it was not so, that the greater number of persons who came there 
were the whites, and they as usual availed themselves of the facilities freely. The 
colored were timid, came in gradually, and as soon as they found they were welcome, 
that there was no hne of discrimination drawn, the attendance of the colored increased. 

At Sherwood Playground, Armour Square, and Fuller Square, all west of 
Wentworth Avenue, which is considered the dividing line between the white 
and Negro areas, fear is probably a large factor in the small Negro attendance, 
as the feeling in the neighborhood is bitter and fights have been frequent. 
At Sherwood Negro children use the playground during school hours when 
they feel that they have the protection of the school, but not after school 
when they feel that protection is lacking. Webster School at Wentworth 
Avenue and Thirty-third Street, which is 30 per cent Negro, has its graduation 
exercises in Armour Square, but the Negro children do not go to Armour Square 
at any other time, and they did not go over at night for an entertainment which 
the principal of Webster School arranged at Armour Square. Negro children use 
the Armour Square library freely, according to the director, but there has 
never been an application for the use of a clubroom, and no Negroes come to 


the outdoor moving pictures which are given one night a week. "There's 
absolutely nothing to prevent them coming," said the director. "Why don't 
they come? There is nothing within the park they need to be afraid of. 
There has been absolutely no distinction made in the handhng of colored 
children or colored men or colored women coming to Armour Square, but 
they do not come." The director was positive that the failure to come to 
the park was due to the attitude toward Negroes outside the park. She 
explained that although she could guarantee safety and pohce protection 
inside the park, she could do nothmg to protect Negroes outside the park 
gates. The park pohcemen are employees of the park boards and not of the 
city and have no jurisdiction outside the parks. This is true of the poUce at 
all parks and beaches maintained by the park boards, but the poUce at the 
playgrounds and beaches maintained by the Municipal Bureau of Parks, 
Playgrounds, and Bathing Beaches are members of the regular city poUce 

Continuing, the Armour Square director said: 

Personally I know of no disturbances that have started within Armour Square, 
and yet we have had outside of Armour Square every year at least two riots, not count- 
ing the general race riot — riots that started largely in school clashes. There have 
been some very serious riots between the children of the Webster School and the 
Keith School just east of it, and there have also been some very serious clashes between 
the black and white children going to and from the parochial school — actual fights in 
which they have had to caU large detachments of the police. Armour Square is 
not used by the colored people in proportion to their numbers in the neighborhood, 
but it has absolutely nothmg to do with our management. It is because they are 
afraid to come to the park. They know absolutely that within the four walls of the 
park nothing is going to happen to them. 

The testimony of the Negro director of the Beutner Playground seemed 
to indicate that Negroes were kept out of Armour Square in ways that its 
director did not know about. 


Behavior. — ^The behavior of Negroes at the parks apparently has not been 
the major cause of the difficulties that have arisen in the past. Such complaints 
as were made by park officials in regard to the behavior of Negroes at the parks 
concerned groups of rough or do mineerig children at the playgrounds rather 
than adults. 

The playgrounds where the attitude of Negro children was criticized 
were Sherwood and Moseley, both in neighborhoods where unusually bitter 
racial feehng was reported by the playground directors. The older Negro 
girls were particularly rough and hard to control, these officials said, abusing 
small children both white and Negro, monopolizing apparatus, and refusing 
to leave the playground when asked to do so. 


The largest in the Xegro residence area 





White and Negro boys at a playground near the Negro residence area 


Testimony in regard to adults indicated that the park directors found 
them quiet and desirable patrons of the parks. Said the director of Seward 

One of the most interesting and best-conducted and best-behaved groups I have 
ever seen is a group of colored people known as the "Jolly Twenty," a dancing 
organization. They started coming eight years ago and had a system of couple 
dancing which was marvelous. I have never seen it equaled anywhere. They have 
been coming every year, once a year, for a dance at Seward, and the "Jolly Twenty" 
has grown to be about the "JoUy Four Hundred," but the larger the group the better 
they seem to behave and the better they dance. 

The director of Ogden Park told of a Negro club which holds frequent 
dances at Ogden Park. He said: "About 300 attended the last one. They 
are the best-behaved group that come. I never have to object to improper 
dancing or boisterousness, and they always leave on time, have had to 
object several times to conduct at white dancing parties." 

This testimony in regard to Negroes at dances is interesting in view of 
the situation regarding the recreation facilities at the Municipal Pier. Negro 
attendance there is about 8 per cent of the total attendance of four million or 
five million a year, according to the director of the Pier. They are well dressed 
and well behaved and inclined to segregate themselves. There had never 
been a single instance of an intoxicated Negro or of one who had made himself 
in the least objectionable, the director said. The only people whom the pier 
authorities have had to reprimand for violation of pier rules in regard to 
cleanliness, monopolizing of furniture, etc., have been whites. Many of the 
attendants are Negroes, and the band which plays for the dance concessionaire 
is composed of Negroes. ^Negroes are welcome everywhere on the Pier, as 
are all races, according to the director, except in the dance hall, where their 
appearance is discouraged by the concessionaire. The following method is 
followed to discourage the appearance of Negroes on the dance floor, according 
to a white man who had observed it: 

Admission to the dance floor is at the rate of five cents per couple, per dance. 
Each dance lasts about three minutes. If a Negro couple buys a ticket and dances 
one dance nothing is said. If the couple comes in for another dance, one of the 
floor managers — employed by the concessionaire — speaks courteously to the couple. 
He expresses regret that he must mention the matter of their dancing to them, but 
that they are not dancing properly, and he invites them to come to a corner of 
the dance floor where he will instruct them in the proper way to dance. This usually 
occupies the remainder of the particular dance, and results in the Negroes not coming 
on the floor again. If the couple does reappear, the floor manager again speaks to 
them saying he is very sorry he has to tell them again that they still are not dancing 
quite properly and again he invites them to a corner of the dance floor for further 
instruction. This is the procedure by which the Negroes are embarrassed and dis- 
couraged from using the dance floor. 


Relations between the children. — Lack of antagonism was reported at a 
large number of playgrounds. Apparatus was used by both groups without 
friction, Negro and white children mingled freely in their games and in the 
swimming-pools, and both Negroes and whites played on baseball and athletic 
teams. Occasional playground fights had taken place, but usually without 
any element of racial antipathy. " There might be personal misunderstandings 
and disagreements between a white and a black just the same as between two 
whites," said the director of Union Park, "but I wouldn't lay it to race prej- 
udice. They work together and play together and seem to harmonize in 
most instances." When this director came to Union Park a year before he 
found a tendency among Negroes and whites to group by themselves, but 
steps were taken to bring them together in games of various kinds, and toward 
the end of the season the director felt that they "harmonized better and worked 
together more cordially than they did before." When the investigator from 
the Commission visited Union Park Playground, he saw the small children 
playing together on the same pieces of apparatus — a Negro child on one end 
of a teeter ladder and a white child on the other. 

These children were ten years or under. The director felt that it was 
not until children reached the age of eleven years or older that they began 
to feel racial antipathy. In the swimming-pool at this park, which is used 
by the older children and adults, the Negroes and whites kept separate. There 
was no trouble between them, but they stayed in separate groups. The director 
felt that there was Httle likelihood of trouble ever starting in this park, because 
"where such nicknames as 'Smoke' are apphed to colored boys by white boys, 
and is given and accepted in a friendly spirit, there is Uttle chance for serious 

As this playground in Union Park is intended for children under ten, the 
occasional difficulties between older children might be alleviated if the Hayes 
Playground, one of those in the system maintained by the Municipal Bureau, 
were kept open in the summer. The playground at the Hayes School, 80 
per cent Negro, was closed and the apparatus dismantled in the summer of 
1920 when the investigator visited it. Though it is not a large playground 
it is the one the older Negro children are accustomed to use during the school 
year, and they are doubtless reluctant to go in the summer to other school 
playgrounds which they do not ordinarily use. 

At Seward Park the Negroes use the facihties freely and play with the 
white children on the apparatus and in the ball field. The only difi&culty 
reported here was in connection with a wrestling tournament. The director 
described it as follows: 

Last season we had a wrestling championship tournament. There were some 
colored groups who had wrestled at Seward who were eligible for entrance into this 
tournament, and when the night came for weighing in, the director for one of the 
other parks said, " What are these colored people doing here ? " "They are weighing 


in." I said. "They will not wrestle with my group," he said. "Very well, then, 
I guess your groups will not be in it, " I said. 

It looked as though we were up against a problem, but the night when the wrestling 
came the colored contestants didn't show up, so that the problem was solved for that 
time. Of course we couldn't say that any white man must wrestle with a colored 
man. It presented a problem that had to be settled in some way. I think the reason 
they didn't show up was because I told my investigator to say to these colored men, 
"Next season if you have a sufficiently large group you can have a contest of your 
own. We'll award the same prizes to colored wrestlers as we do to the white." 

The representative of the Municipal Bureau also spoke of occasional 
difficulty in wrestling, though there may be no objection to Negro participation 
in other events. He said: 

We have athletic meets in which a Negro team has competed and for five years 
has won the championship in athletics. In baseball there is no trouble. The difficulty 
comes in some of the activities, particularly wresthng, because of the nature of the 
activity. It is a closer contact. We make no distinction, however, and when a 
Negro boy gets up to face a white boy and the white boy doesn't face him, the bout 
is forfeited to the Negro. I think more meet than fail to. 

At Fiske Playground, where there are few Negroes, as they do not live 
near, the investigator witnessed a baseball game with a team from Colman 
Playground composed entirely of Negro boys except the pitcher. They played 
as any teams would, with no evidence of racial antipathy. The Negro team 
seemed to be the better, and according to the director had won every game 
so far that season. 

At McCosh, Robey, Carter, Oakland, Colman, Doolittle, and Beutner 
playgrounds the children mingled without friction, according to the directors. 
Negroes were in a minority at the first three and in a majority at the last 
four. At Carter Playground the investigator witnessed the presentation of 
a medal for athletics to one of the white boys while the Negro boys looked on 
in admiration and, after it was over, invited the white boys to "come on out 
and play ball." The only trouble that has been experienced at this playground 
was a few days before the 19 19 riot, when a fight between a white boy and a 
Negro started on the playground and the spectators divided along racial lines, 
especially after the fight was transferred to the street. A riot call was sent in, 
and the poKce put a stop to the fight. No trouble has occurred since and the 
director believed it could not happen again. " The boys have learned better, " 
he said. 

Free mingling of Negro and white children was observed at Oakland and 
Robey playgrounds and was encouraged by the directors. Italian and Negro 
boys were playing ball together when the investigator visited Robey Play- 
ground, and Negro and white girls were playing on the same slides. The 
director said that in the evening the ball games were watched by both Negroes 


and whites, and that frequently the Negroes had a game themselves, which 
white onlookers enjoyed watching. The only incident of importance at 
Robey Playground had occurred a few day before, when a dispute over a 
baseball game arose between a white boy of fourteen and two Negro boys of 
eleven, resulting in a fight in which the director had to interfere. The director 
said there was not the slightest chance that such a fight would divide the 
playground along racial lines, as there had never been any disorders there, 
and that animosity between the Negro and white groups was entirely lacking. 

At Oakland Playground, where neither race predominated strongly, the 
assistant director said there had never been any difficulty. The investigator 
witnessed a ball game in which Negro and white girls participated and saw 
groups of Negro and white boys talking outside the playground in a friendly 

At Colman, Beutner, and Doolittle playgrounds, where the Negroes 
come in the majority, no difficulties were reported. The Negro director of 
Doolittle Playground encourages comradeship between Negro and white 
children and allows no discrimination against white children. "If a white 
boy can make a team, he makes it, " this director says to a Negro team which 
objects to a white boy being allowed to play on it. When this director was 
assigned to Doolittle Playground he was told that 60 per cent of those who 
made use of the playground were Negro and 40 per cent white. When he 
got there he found that 70 per cent were white and 30 per cent were Negroes. 
He said: 

I had to look around to find a colored child, but I never had any trouble. Of 
course the white people gradually moved out and the colored people moved in. We 
never had any trouble with colored boys or white boys — they played on the same teams. 
In fact, I think we won the district championship for four years. Then they moved 
me over to the Beutner and the majority of the white children got up a petition to 
bring me back to Doolittle Playground. That shows there was no distinction there. 
They wanted me because we carried on activities. 

White ball teams often use the field at Beutner Playground in spite of the 
fact that Armour Square is only two blocks away. "Last year [1919] there 
were several games between white and colored teams," said the assistant 
director, "but there have been none so far in 1920." 

No difficulties between Negroes and whites were reported at Palmer 
Park, Bessemer Park, or Thorpe, Otis, and Orleans playgrounds, which are 
patronized by a few Negroes, though they are too far away from the Negro 
areas to be generally used. 

The supervisor of girls' work in the Municipal Bureau made the following 
statement in regard to the relations between the Negro and white children 
visiting the municipal playgrounds: 

From my observation and supervision of the girls' work in the municipal play- 
groimds I can only say that in all our activities colored and white children mingle 
without restriction. In indoor gymnasium and dancing-classes as well as in games, 


athletics, and general informal use of the playground, they take part together. Ability 
and sportsmanship are the only qualifications considered in candidates for any play- 
ground team. In the field of adult recreation, since we have no community centers 
conducting indoor activities in connection with any of our playgrounds within the 
colored area, my observations refer only to outdoor gatherings. On such occasions 
adults of both races mingle without friction. It is my experience that the most 
harmonious relations are estabhshed in connection with band concerts, field days, 
festivals, pageants, etc., including all forms of community art, which tend to unify 
rather than to spHt those taking part. In the Illinois Centennial Pageant, presented 
by groups from thirty-eight neighborhoods in 1918, girls from Doolittle Playground 
represented "Dances of the New Freedom," bringing "Liberty and New Strength to 
Illinois." In preparation of this episode several rehearsals were held at DooKttle 
Playground, white dancers from other playgrounds taking part; and the interest 
and co-operation shown by the neighbors made each evening memorable. 

Voluntary racial grouping. — ^Voluntary racial grouping appears to be a 
characteristic of the large parks and beaches, which adults frequent, rather 
than of the playgrounds which are used mainly by children. One instance 
of voluntary grouping among children was found at Copernicus Playground. 
The percentage of Negroes using this playground is much larger in summer 
than in winter. The playing space is in the shape of an " L, " one end intended 
for boys and the other for girls, but by common consent the children divide 
along race lines rather than sex. The investigator saw small white children 
playing at one end of the playground, while Negro boys were playing ball in 
the larger end. Later, after the Negro boys left, some of the white children 
used the larger space while some Negro children collected around the apparatus 
in the smaller end. No instance of mixed play was observed, but th^re seemed 
to be no antagonism between the groups, and no disorders were reported. 

The director of Union Park m speaking of boys who play games in the 
recreation rooms, said that there seemed to be a tacit understanding between 
the blacks and whites that they had certain nights. On certain nights all 
the attendance would be black and on other nights it would all be white. 
Asked whether Negro and white boys who were school friends played separately 
at the park, the director said that blacks and whites often came in together, 
but that for every case where they came in together and played a sociable 
game, there were probably three instances where groups were either of one 
race or the other. However, the director said that this grouping was casual, 
and that there was no prevailing community sentiment that the Negroes 
should use the park on separate nights. He believed that additional recreation 
facilities would help greatly in doing away with this tendency to voluntary 
segregation. He also said that the Negroes had a tendency to separate from 
the whites, not because they wished to avoid them, but because they preferred 
to associate with their own race. 

In the general use of Lmcoln and Washuigton parks the Negroes and 
whites stay in separate groups. There has never been any difficulty, according 


to the Lincoln Park representative, arising from the fact that Negroes have 
taken possession of a spot desired by whites for a picnic or other amuse- 
ment. No part of either park is especially set aside for the use of one race, 
and groups of both Negroes and whites are seen everywhere in the parks, 
but they do not mingle. While there was no outward evidence of antagonism 
toward Negroes at the time of the investigator's visit to Washington Park, 
white visitors who were questioned showed an antipathy to the Negro which 
seemed to have its basis in the influx of Negroes into the residence districts. 
One man, originally from the South, was bitter against Negroes. He said he 
had left the Socialist party because it accepted Negroes as equals. At an 
open-air "free-speech" meeting speakers representing various radical doctrines 
were addressing a crowd composed almost entirely of whites. The chairman 
of the meeting, however, was a Negro, whose humorous remarks made him 
popular with the white crowd. 

The only place in Washington Park where there seemed to be a general 
mingling of Negroes and whites was on the ball field. There were games in 
which the two teams were composed entirely of Negroes, and games in which 
the teams were composed entirely of whites; there were also games in which 
both Negroes and whites were engaged. The investigator watched one game 
in which vacancies on two teams from American Legion posts had been filled 
by Negroes. There was the best of spirit between the players and among 
the spectators. The white spectators were lined up along the first base line 
and the Negro spectators along the third base line, but rooters and players 
joked with each other with no sign of racial antagonism. 

The South Park representative testified to the good feeling between 
Negroes and whites at a baseball game, and said the whites often preferred 
to watch the Negro games. At other points in the park, however, particularly 
the tennis courts and the boathouse, difficulties between the races were reported. 
These will be discussed in the next section on ''Clashes." 

Separate racial grouping is the general rule at the beaches, though it is not 
always voluntary. At the Thirty-eighth Street Beach, for example, Negroes 
are prevented by white boys and the park policeman from going into the water, 
according to a Negro playground director. "Boys who live around there 
from Thirty-ninth to Thirty-first Street have to swim at the street end between 
Thirty- third and Thirty-second. They rock you if you go in." This director 
was invited by white boys of the Vincennes Club to swim at Thirty-eighth 
Street, but when he suggested bringing some Negro boys along the white boys 
said, "Oh no, they can't come." 

At the Diversey Beach in Lincoln Park both races go in the water, but a 
Lincoln Park representative said that the few Negroes who used this beach 
kept by themselves on one part of the beach, though there was no official 
rule compelling them to do this. There have never been any racial disturbances 
at this beach. 

» * 



Located at Thirtv-third Street and Shields Avenue 



ly i. 


Located at Thirty-third Street and La Salle Avenue 



From the Twenty-sixth Street Beach, which is patronized almost entirely 
by Negroes, down to Thirty-sixth Street, Negroes and whites go into the water 
in separate groups, except at Twenty-sixth Street, where the few whites who 
go in mingle amicably with the Negroes. The investigator saw a white couple 
who had gone out to a raft and could not get back rescued by a Negro life 
guard. The other bathing-places along the shore for those ten blocks have 
been allotted by custom exclusively to one race or the other. At Twenty- 
ninth Street, where the 1919 riot started, a policeman is now stationed, and 
no trouble has occurred since the riot, though many fights have started which 
the police have stopped. Gangs of young men come from as far as Halsted 
Street, according to the policemen, ready to fight at the slightest opportunity. 
Fights usually occur because of some remark made by one group about a girl 
in another group. On the whole, however, few Negroes come to Twenty-ninth 
Street, the poHceman said, going instead to Twenty-sixth Street. 

At the beaches outside the main Negro area, such as Fifty-first Street 
and Triangle Park, and Clarendon and Rogers Park beaches to the north, the 
only Negro patrons are a few young children. The attendants at these 
beaches believe there would be trouble if adult Negroes started to use them. 
Negro children have been objected to at Clarendon Beach, where a man 
asked the director to put a Uttle girl out because "she was a nigger." 

Several directors reported that the Negroes did not use the swimming-pools 
much and segregated themselves when they did go in. The director at Union 
Park said the Negroes did not use the swimming-pool in proportion to their 
numbers, and that when they did use it, they came in small groups and confined 
themselves to a certain part of the pool instead of minghng with the whites. 
He said that there was nothing in the attitude of the white boys to make them 
do this, but that it was the "natural impulse of the colored people to do that 
in the swimming-pool." He thought that many Negroes did not use the pool 
more because "they are afraid of the water." A Negro playground director 
testified that he had frequently seen a white boy dive off one side of the pool 
at Union Park when a Negro boy dived off the other side and hold the Negro 
boy down until, when he came up, he was gasping for air. 

The director of Ogden Park gave an incident that had occurred recently 
at that park: 

One day I noticed three small colored girls sitting among the others in the "swim- 
ming line" waiting for the doors to open. A few minutes afterward they were at the 
end of the line. I tried to find out the reason but could discover nothing either from 
the colored girls or the others. I saw that they went back to the place in the line they 
had before and went to my office. Some minutes later I looked out and saw that while 
the swimming had begun, these three had not gone in but were sitting there watching 
the rest. I was unable to discover why they didn't go in — they said merely that 
they "didn't want to." Whether there was some threat or whether the girls were 
naturally timid about going into the pool I do not know. 


The representative of the South Park Commission said that in the South 
Park district the parents were opposed to race contacts in swimming- and 
wading-pools. "Not lo per cent of the famiHes will allow contact with 
Negroes in the pools," he said. 

None of the three natatoriums maintained by the Municipal Bureau is 
patronized by Negroes, with the exception of the Washington Heights pool 
which is used by a few Negro children in the summer. This pool is near a 
Negro district, but the other two are remote from the Negro areas. 

A distinction was made by several directors between formal and informal 
activities at playgrounds and recreation centers. It was their theory that 
Negroes and whites mingled successfully in informal activities, but not in 
formal ones. "There is a difference in the informal use by children of a 
playground and the use of a recreation building where there are clubs and 
dances and classes and things of that sort, " said the director of Armour Square. 
" Children and adults come in individually to use the library and other facilities, 
but there are no applications from organized groups of Negroes for any of the 
faciHties at Armour Square." The real distinction in most cases is probably 
not between formal and informal use but between use by children and use 
by adults, as the formal activites are those in which older children and adults 
engage, as was pointed out by the representative of the West Chicago Com- 

Clashes. — Clashes between Negroes and whites at various places of recrea- 
tion are reported as far back as 19 13. These clashes in the main have been 
initiated by gangs of white boys. In 1913, for example, the secretary of boys' 
work at the Wabash Avenue Y.M.C.A. (for Negroes) conducted a party of nine- 
teen Negro boys from the Douglass Center Boys' Club to Armour Square. They 
had no difficulty in entering the park and carrying out their program of 
athletics. The party then took shower baths in the field house. The 
Y.M.C.A. secretary had noticed the increasing crowds of white boys near-by 
but had no misgivings until the party left the park. Then they were assailed 
with sandbags, tripped, walked over, and some of them badly bruised. They 
were obliged to take refuge in neighboring saloons and houses in Thirty-third 
Street west of Shields Avenue. For fully half an hour their way home was 
blocked, until a detachment of city poUce, called by the park police, scattered 
the white gang. 

That same year the Y.M.C.A. secretary had found it impossible to proceed 
east through Thirty-first Street to the lake with groups of Negro boys. When 
this was tried they inevitably met gangs of white boys, and fights ensued 
with any missiles procurable. Attempts to overcome this antagonism by 
continuing to demonstrate that the Negro boys had a right to use these streets 
were unavailing for the next two years. 

In 191 5 similar conflicts occurred. That winter Father Bishop, of St. 
Thomas Episcopal Church, took a group of the Negro Y.M.C.A. boys to Armour 


Square to play basket-ball. The party, including Father Bishop, was beaten 
up by white boys, their sweaters were taken from them, and they were otherwise 
maltreated. The Y.M.C.A. staff then decided not to attempt to use the park 
or field house during the evenings. 

The same year an attempt was made to take seventy-five of these boys 
through the Stock Yards. They had received tickets of admission to the 
annual stock show, in the pavihon at "the Yards." In spite of the four adult 
leaders, several of the boys were struck by sticks and other missiles while passing 
from one section of the show to another. The gang of white boys continually 
increased in numbers, and the situation by three o'clock, two hours after the 
Negroes had entered, began to look desperate. Pohce assistance was required 
to get the Negro boys safely out of the building and into street cars. No 
effort was made to restrain the white gangsters, who were allowed to range 
through the building at will. 

An altercation between white and Negro boys in Washington Park is on 
record as early as the summer of 19 13. These boys were sixteen or seventeen 
years of age. During the spring and summer of 1919, numerous outbreaks 
occurred because of the use of the baseball diamonds in Washington Park 
by Negro players. White gangs from the neighborhood of Fifty-ninth Street 
and Wentworth Avenue, not far from the park, also came there to play baseball, 
among them some of "Ragen's Colts. "^ Gang fights frequently followed 
the games. Park policemen usually succeeded in scattering the combatants. 
The same season gangs of white boys from sixteen to twenty years of age 
frequently annoyed Negro couples on the benches of this park. When the 
Negroes showed fight, minor clashes often resulted. 

In Ogden Park, as far back as 1914, there were similar instances of race 
antipathy, expressed by hoodlums who were more or less organized. A Negro 
playground director said that if Negro boys attended band concerts in that 
park, white gangs would wait for them outside the park, and the Negroes 
were slugged. The white gangs also tried to keep Negro boys from using the 
shower baths at the park. This director told how a party of Negroes whom 
he had taken there was surrounded by white gangsters when they emerged 
from the shower house. "A boy reached around and caught me and pulled 
me up close to the other fellow," he said. "I dug down and got out. Of 
course they rushed for me. In the rush the other colored lads got out. Brass 
knuckles were used on me. When I looked up they said, ' My God, you have 
hit L — ; you have hit the wrong fellow.' " The director declares that the 
man who hit him with the brass knuckles was discharged by the court with a 

This condition in the parks continued up to the early summer of 1920. 
George R. Arthur, secretary of the Negro Y.M.C.A. branch, expressed the fear 
at that time that a riot might occur in Washington Park any Sunday afternoon. 

*See p. 12 


He described the condition in the vicinity of the boathouse in that park as 
"fierce." There were fights there every Sunday. Five white men had beaten 
a Negro there one night the previous week. That sort of thing had been 
going on for years, he said. The Y.M.C.A. had long been dealing with the 
situation but he had noticed this trouble especially in the last two years. 
He attributed it to the gang spirit and to racial antipathy, which ordinarily 
would not amount to much, but which because of the tense situation in Chicago 
might lead to serious riots. 

The director of the Negro branch of Community Service of Chicago 
ascribed the trouble to the same source. He said that most of the white boys 
came to Washington Park from the "Ragen's Colts" Club, that some of them 
went to poolrooms where the mischief was hatched. There was but one 
policeman in charge of about fifteen baseball games in the park, he said. 

The racial difficulties at the baseball fields in Washington Park had doubt- 
less never been brought to the attention of the representative of the South 
Park Commission, because he cited these games as an example of good feeling 
between the two races. He believed that there was never any difl&culty at 
the baseball fields, and that the white people who enjoyed the Negro games 
would be the first to object if the Negroes were not permitted to play in the 
park. This opinion coincides with the situation at the ball fields observed by 
the investigator for the Commission, but apparently there are occasional clashes 
here as in other parts of the park. 

The representative of the South Park Commission did not think Negroes 
hesitated to use any of the facilities of the park because of fear of mistreat- 
ment in the park, though they might have some fear of being mistreated 
outside the park. He did not know that any difficulties have ever occurred 
at the boathouse. though a Negro doctor testified that he had treated many 
Negro boys who had been assaulted there. The South Park representative 

I have never known of any actual abuse of a colored patron in any park to which 
I was personally assigned. I have known people coming and going who were abused, 
mistreated, and actually assaulted, outside the park reservations, but I don't believe 
our records would show very many cases — ^probably no more than occur where the 
Poles and the Irish get together, or the Bohemians and the Germans. 

Fights of a racial character were reported at one or two playgrounds. At 
Franklin Playground, where fights among boys between ten and fourteen are 
frequent, the director said he was always especially careful to stop a fight 
between a white and Negro boy because "a race riot would be easy to start." 

At Sherwood Playground Negro children do not use the playground after 
school hours or during the summer. The attendant declared that ''things 
used to be mighty rough but are better now." The change may have been 
due to a younger group of children replacing the former pupils, among whom 
were many children fourteen to seventeen years of age. There was much 


fighting between Negroes and whites in the neighborhood of Sherwood Play- 
ground, according to the attendant. Street fights were frequent, often ending 
in the use of knives or stones, and numerous arrests had been made. The 
fight usually started between two boys over some trivial dispute, a mixed 
crowd gathered, and the fight became general. Fights were also frequent 
within the playground, the attendant said; sometimes as many as three 
were going on at once. But a policeman had been stationed near-by, and 
conditions were improving. The playground had no director at the time it 
was visited. 

An example of objection to the first Negroes appearing in a park was 
given by an official of the Municipal Bureau: 

I remember a particular instance at the Beutner Playground in about 1903. 
Prior to that time we had very few colored people in that vicinity. One evening a 
young colored boy, probably seventeen or eighteen years of age, came in there. I 
happened to be on the athletic field at that time. He came in the rear gate, and the 
first thing I noticed there was quite a crowd of white fellows chasing this fellow all 
over the field. He ran down to where the Armory now stands, doubled, and came 
back and got out of the gates. 

This official said that after that incident there was little trouble between 
the races at the playground until about 1910, when the balance of the patronage 
became almost equal. He continued: 

That was when the trouble started. There wasn't any preference shown on the 
part of the park management to any particular race, but it was the people outside. 
They absolutely took the stand that as long as they could keep the colored people 
away they were going to do it. They used every means they could to keep the colored 
people away from Beutner Playground and Armour Square. 

Another instance of whites objecting to the use of recreation facilities 
for the first time by Negroes was given by the representative of the West 
Chicago Commission: 

Not long ago, two colored men, for the first time in the history of Garfield Park, 
came out there to play tennis. Immediately somebody in the neighborhood called 
up the Park Board and complained about Negroes breaking into Garfield Park. 
We frankly told the people who were complaining that they had equal rights to the 
use of the facilities at Garfield Park. But it seemed that whUe we said nothing, 
the colored gentlemen never appeared again to use the tennis facilities. 

The representative of the South Park Commission in commenting on this 
same point said : 

There is a history of development in amicable race relations. Most of the 
troublous conditions are where there is injected for the first time the question of 
racial intermingling. Where it is established, where it has gradually grown up, in 
time there comes an adjustment. 


At Armour Square individual Negroes have been accepted as "part of the 
scheme," according to the representative of the South Park Commission, 
practically ever since the park was opened. But the director says that it is 
group action which stirs up trouble: 

I think the trouble will adjust itself as the colored people continue to come into 
the neighborhood, but we are in the situation of having colored people come into the 
neighborhood where there haven't been any before. I think it will adjust itself in 
a year or so, and that possibly at that time colored people will begin coming. 

The head of the Municipal Bureau thought the difficulties arose, not when 
Negroes first entered a white neighborhood, but when a balance between the 
two races was struck, and it was a question which race was going to predomi- 
nate. "That has been my experience with the municipal playgrounds," 
he said, citing the case of the Beutner Playground which the Municipal Board 
decided to turn over to the Negroes. 

Where Negroes are accepted and live amicably near white people, or where 
there has not been enough influx of Negroes to arouse feeling against them 
the contacts in the playground are usually peaceful. On the other hand, 
in communities where Negroes are looked on as intruders and objectionable 
neighbors, and where the white people are antagonistic, a contact between a 
Negro and white child, which would normally be peaceful, will result in a 
disturbance and tend to increase existing antagonism. This is the situation at 
Moseley and Sherwood playgrounds. 

At Thirty-eighth Street Beach the prejudice is such as to prevent any Negro 
from bathing there, although it is as near the center of the main Negro area 
as the Twenty-sixth Street Beach, to which Negroes are expected to confine 
themselves. At Armour Square neighborhood sentiment permits a few Negroes 
to use the park, but trouble starts if new groups come. At Ogden Park a 
Negro playground director was assaulted by white boys and hit with brass 
knuckles in 1914, but now, according to a prominent Negro familiar with the 
situation at the center, there is order and fair treatment both within the park 
and on the way to it, and the Negroes prefer to travel out there than to go 
to Washington Park, which is closer at hand, but where they may be attacked 
if they try to use a boat or may be obliged to wait indefinitely for a tennis 

The use of the parks by Negroes is determined almost entirely by the degree 
of antagonism in the neighborhood, and Negroes are afraid to make use of 
the parks where the neighborhood sentiment is hostile. "The neighborhood 
condition pretty much governs the feeling of security, on the basis of which 
the Negro will come in and use our park facilities," said the representative 
of the South Park Commission. "Without feeling secure in his neighborhood 
and in his access to the park, I don't think anythmg we could do would pull 
the Negro in." 



"""^^o:, I 


At Mitchell Playground, in a district with a reputation for lawlessness, 
and at Seward Park, two blocks from a region known as "Little Hell," no 
racial difficulty is reported. 

The two causes of neighborhood antagonism most commonly cited were 
the real estate and the sex problems. Among visitors to Washington Park 
the real estate problem in the residence districts near the park seemed to be 
the primary cause of ill feeling. One of the property owners in that region 
showed his feeling by complaining that the park ought to be rechristened 
"Booker T. Washington Park." The figures in Table I indicate that only 
about 10 per cent of the patrons of the park are Negroes. 

An important point in considering neighborhood sentiment is whether the 
white hoodlum who appears to be mainly responsible for the clashes which 
have taken place is a cause of neighborhood antagonism or whether he merely 
reflects the attitude of the community. The fact that the hoodlum is permitted 
to terrorize and mistreat Negroes without serious protest from whites is an 
indication that the hoodlum expresses what the white community feels. The 
hoodlum does not always live, however, in the immediate neighborhood of 
the place of recreation where he makes trouble. The gangs of white boys 
who come down to Twenty-ninth Street Beach and start trouble, for example, 
do not live near the beach, the policeman in charge says, but over at Halsted 
Street. The director of Armour Square, though she stated that the feeling 
in the immediate neighborhood of the park was responsible for keeping Negroes 
away from Armour Square, said that the boys who were active in starting 
trouble at the time of the 19 19 riot came from west of the park, and that the 
boys in her vicinity tried to stop the others. 

The head of the girls' work in the Municipal Bureau said: 
It [hoodlumism] is a symptom, the reflection and logical carrying out of an attitude 
widely accepted by the community as a whole. Although a serious and troublesome 
symptom, I believe it should be faced and welcomed as evidence of the potential 
brutaUty of this attitude. Men and women of good standing in white society condone 
much that they would hesitate to do in person; and by their failure to protest prove 
themselves equally responsible for results. 

The director of Fuller Park believed that the groups of hoodlums mainly 
responsible for keeping Negroes out of the parks were the athletic clubs " com- 
posed usually of a bunch of young sports that are not athletes at all." "These 
clubs, which have only about one athlete on the roster, " he said, " are so situated 
that the Negroes have to pass them going to and from the park. Those are 
the boys, numerous in every park neighborhood, who are keeping the colored 
people out of the parks." 

The director of Ogden Park took the part of a Negro boy set upon by a 
white gang during the 19 19 riot and rescued by the poHce, though they did 
not keep the mob from killing the Negro. He advocated the formation of 


''square-deal" clubs to defend innocent people from hoodlums. "Members 
would be bound to fight for the square deal — whites against white hoodlums 
and blacks against black hoodlums," he said. "Until both races will act, 
the lawless elements will continue to cause trouble." 

It is possible in some cases, such as those in which the "athletic clubs" 
are involved, to find out the identity of boys who molest Negroes, but, according 
to the testimony of several park directors, it is absolutely impossible to control 
these boys because the courts will not convict them. The director of Armour 
Square stated: 

I have had boys taken down to the courts time after time, and now my policeman 
refuses to take them down to the court any more, because he is reprimanded when he 

brings them in One of our attendants was shot through the lung and is now 

absolutely incapacitated for work, and the poUceman was reprimanded because he 
had kept the boy in jail two nights. When it came to trial, they had already seen 
somebody and the poUceman got the reprimand. 

There was a general feeUng among park representatives that the presence 
of a director with a proper attitude toward the problem was the greatest 
factor in bringing about amicable relations within the park, but there was 
considerable difference of opinion as to whether the park management could 
or should attempt to influence the surrounding neighborhood. The West 
Chicago Commission representative said that there was no instructor at 
Union Park the first year it was open, and that considerable segregation and 
undesirable conduct on the part of both whites and Negroes resulted. Since 
then, there had always been a director in charge, and a very harmonious ming- 
Hng of the two races had been brought about on the playground. He beheved 
that a similar relationship could be brought about within the recreation building 
by a director with the right personality, if adequate faciUties were provided. 

The Seward Park director did not consider it a proper function of a recrea- 
tion center to try to direct the community life outside it. 

The director of Armour Square felt that she could do nothing to promote 
Negro activities there. She did not approve of the suggestion of turning over 
Armour Square to the Negroes as the best way of solving the problem. She 
thought this would result in ill feeUng and trouble, since there was a well- 
established tradition that the whites should use Armour Square to the fullest 
extent. But since the Negroes had no such recreation center as Armour 
Square available to them, she beheved that a new center with full equipment 
should be started in a neighborhood part white and part Negro with the under- 
standing that it should be a Negro recreation center where the whites were 
welcome if they wished to come. She thought that white people would patron- 
ize such a recreation center and, with careful leadership, would mingle with 
the Negroes on friendly and peaceable terms. 

Two recreation-center directors favored entirely separate recreational 
facilities for Negroes with whites excluded. One of these was the director 


of Fuller Park, who told the Commission that he had made every effort to get 
Negroes to come to the park, and that he considered it part of his duty to go 
out into the neighborhood and try to get Negroes to use the park. " Separate 
parks and playgrounds for colored people are advisable, " he said, "not because 
one group is any better than the other, but because they are different. Human 
nature will have to be remodeled before racial antipathy is overcome." 

The director of Hardin Square, another recreation center Uttle used by 
Negroes, though it is near the main Negro area, believed that separate facilities 
for each race would be the best solution of the problem. He did not encourage 
Negroes to come to Hardin Square. The policeman at the park also beUeved 
that "you can't make the two colors mix." This policeman said he knows 
a group of young men in the district, mostly ex-service men, who would 
"procure arms and fight shoulder to shoulder with me if a Negro should say 
one word back to me or should say a word to a white woman." He thought 
it would not take much to start another riot, and that the white people of the 
district would resolve to make a "complete clean-up this time." This pohce- 
man is the one whose failure to arrest a white man accused of stoning the Negro 
boy, Williams, at the Twenty-sixth Street Beach was an important factor in pre- 
cipitating the riot in 1919. 

The director of Moseley Playground, who was born and raised in that 
vicinity, said there had been antagonism between the two races in that neigh- 
borhood for thirty years. He beheved that separate recreation facilities 
would be impracticable because the taxpayers could not be divided in such a 
way that they would not be paying for fields their children could not use. 

The director of Seward Park thought that it might be arranged in the 
small parks to give special hours to Negro groups. This would meet what 
he beheved to be the desire of the Negroes to be by themselves and also the 
objection of the white girls who had protested against having Negro girls in 
the same gymnasium classes with them. 


The importance of the personaUty of the park director in determining 
the conditions in the park, which was often emphasized, led to a consideration 
of the training for the work — whether training was required that would develop 
the understanding and vision necessary to handle the problems involved in 
racial contacts. The representative of the Municipal Bureau said that every 
effort had been made to get trained men, but that there was no school or curricu- 
lum of training that determined the efficiency of a person in charge. Some 
of his best directors had had no specific training, while some of the poorest 
came from the best recreational training schools. 

Few Negro instructors were found at the places of recreation and these 
were employed by the Municipal Bureau, The representative of the West 
Side Commission said that he had been trymg for a long time without success 


to get a Negro to take the civil-service examination for playground instructors, 
as he was anxious to get a Negro for Union Park, The representatives of the 
Lincoln and South Park commissions said that they used Negroes only as 
Ufe guards, attendants, janitors, etc. The South Park Commission represent- 
ative said the question of the desirabiUty of having Negro instructors and play 
leaders had never come up, because no Negro had ever become a candidate 
for a position as a result of the competitive examinations. 

Training opportunities for Negroes. — It was found that the Y.M.C.A. has 
a four-year recreational training-course in which no distinction is made between 
Negroes and whites. As the courses are not open to women, the Y.M.C.A. 
has no such race problem as arises in recreation courses where women are 
admitted. The president of the graduating class at the Y.M.C.A. College 
the year previous was a Negro, though the rest of the class was composed 
entirely of whites. The number of Negroes taking the Y.M.C.A. recreation 
course is relatively small, usually about two in a class of 150. 

The American College of Physical Education and the Chicago Normal 
School of Physical Education reported that they did not admit Negroes to 
any courses, saying that their students would object to physical contact with 

The Recreation Training School of Chicago, successor to the Recreation 
Department of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, admits Negroes 
to the recreation course on the same terms as all other students and has trained 
several, both in the short courses and in the fuU year's course. This school 
admits both men and women. 


Though the Negro areas are as well supplied with ordinary playgrounds 
as the rest of the city, they are noticeably lacking in more complete recreation 
centers with indoor facilities for the use of older children and adults. Several 
of these recreation centers, such as Hardin, Armour, and Fuller squares, 
Stanton and Ogden parks, border on Negro areas but are not used to any great 
extent by Negroes because the Negroes feel that the whites object to their 
presence. Though there are three publicly maintained beaches within the 
main Negro area the Negroes feel free to use only the Twenty-sixth Street 
Beach, though many of them live as far south as Sixty-sixth Street. Where 
Negroes do not use nearby facilities to any great extent they have usually 
either been given to understand, through unofl&cial discrimination, that they 
are not desired, or they have been terrorized by gangs of white boys. 
Few attempts to encourage Negro attendance have been made, and with the 
exception of Union Park these attempts have failed. 

In the main there seem to be no difi&culties arising from contacts between 
young white and Negro children at the playgrounds, no matter whether the 
playground is predominantly white or predominantly Negro, with the excep- 
tion of one or two playgrounds, such as Sherwood and Moseley, which seem 


to share in traditional neighborhood antagonism between the two races. 
Voluntary racial grouping at the playground was found only in rare instances 
and usually involved the older rather than the younger children. The 
swimming-pools, for example, are patronized more by older children, and 
voluntary racial grouping at swimming-pools was reported in several instances. 
In the ordinary playground sports and athletic contests the two races mingle 
with the best of feeling. 

Voluntary racial groupings and serious clashes are found mainly at the 
places of recreation patronized by older chUdren and adults — the large parks, 
beaches, and recreation centers. Trouble is usually started by gangs of white 
boys, organized and unorganized. The members of so-called "athletic clubs," 
whose rooms usually border on the park, are the worst offenders in this respect. 
If they do not reflect the community feeling they are at least tolerated by it, 
as nothing is done to suppress them. Some park authorities that have made 
sincere efforts to have these hoodlums punished are discouraged because 
they get no co-operation from the courts, and the policeman who takes the 
boy to court gets a reprimand, while the boy is dismissed. 

Another source of racial disorder is the lack of co-ordination between 
park and city police. The park police stop a fight between a white child and a 
Negro child and send them from the park. Outside the park gates the children 
start fighting again, and the park police have no power to interfere. The 
spectators may then get into the fight, dividing along racial lines, and before 
the city police can be summoned a race riot may be well under way. Either 
city police should be stationed directly outside every park, ready to co-operate 
with the park police, or else the jurisdiction of the park police should be 
extended to include the area immediately surrounding the park. 

The most important remedies suggested to the Commission for the better- 
ment of relations between Negroes and whites at the various places of recreation 
were: (i) additional facilities in Negro areas, particularly recreation centers 
which can be used by adults; (2) an awakened public opinion which will refuse 
longer to tolerate the hoodlum and wUl insist that the courts properly punish 
such offenders; (3) selection of directors for parks in neighborhoods where 
there is a critical situation who will have a sympathetic understanding of the 
problem and will not tolerate actions by park police officers and other subordi- 
nate officials tending to discourage Negro attendance; and (4) efforts by such 
directors to repress and remove any racial antagonism that may arise in the 
neighborhood about the park. 



Volume of traffic. — ^The number of passengers carried in 1916 in a twenty- 
four-hour day by the Chicago surface lines was 3,500,000 and by the elevated 
railway lines 560,000, according to a tabulation made by the Chicago Traction 


and Subway Commission in 1916. With the city's growth in population the 
traffic in 1920 doubtless showed an even larger volume. This traffic is distrib- 
uted over approximately 1,050 miles of surface and 142 miles of elevated 
track. It is most congested in the ''Loop" area of the downtown business 
section, which is a transfer center for the three sides of the city, North, South, 
and West; and of course it is heaviest at the hours when people go to and 
from work. 

Concentration of Negro traffic. — Negroes constitute 4 per cent of the city's 
population, according to the federal census for 1920, and presumably about 
that percentage of the city's street-car traffic. The Negro traffic, however, 
instead of being scattered all over the city, is mainly concentrated upon twelve 
lines which traverse the Negro residence areas and connect them with the 
manufacturing districts where Negroes are largely employed. These twelve 
lines, which are shown on the two transportation diagrams facing page 300, cover 
II per cent of the total mileage of the surface and elevated lines. Because 
of this concentration, however, the proportion of Negroes to whites on these 
twelve lines is much higher than 4 per cent, and on such lines as that on State 
Street, which runs along the principal business street of the main South Side 
Negro residence area, it often happens that the majority of the passengers 
are Negroes. In addition to these twelve lines of heaviest Negro traffic, there 
are others traversing less densely populated parts of Negro residence areas. 
In varying degrees contacts of Negroes and whites may be found on other lines 
which serve the small proportion of the Negro population scattered throughout 
the city. 

The main area of Negro residence, on the South Side, where about 90 
per cent of the Negroes in Chicago live, is traversed by the State Street, Indiana 
Avenue, Cottage Grove Avenue, Stony Island Avenue, and the South Side 
elevated lines, running north and south, and by eleven cross-town lines, running 
east and west, beginning with the Twenty-second Street line at the north and 
ending with the Seventy-first Street line at the south. From six to nine 
o'clock in the morning, and from four to six o'clock in the afternoon, there is 
a heavy Negro traffic on the lines gouig north to the "Loop," on the Cottage 
Grove Avenue line going south to the South Chicago manufacturing district, 
and on the Thirty-fifth Street and Forty-seventh Street lines and the elevated 
branch line at Fortieth Street going west to the Stock Yards. To reach the 
Stock Yards, Negro laborers must ride through a territory between Wentworth 
Avenue and Halsted Street in which, as shown in the sections of the report 
dealing with housing and with racial clashes, hostility toward Negroes has often 
been displayed. This Negro traffic west of Wentworth Avenue is, therefore, 
chiefly confined to a few hours in the morning and the afternoon. 

The West Side Negro residence area is connected with the "Loop" by the 
Madison Street and Lake Street surface lines, and the elevated line on Lake 
Street, and with the Stock Yards by the Halsted Street and Ashland Avenue lines. 


The North Side Negro residence area is connected with the "Loop" by 
the lines on State and Clark streets and by the Northwestern elevated lines. 
Contacts on these lines, however, are not as important as on the lines serving 
the South and West Side areas, because the number of Negroes involved is 
only about 1,500, or less than 2 per cent of the Negro population. 

Contacts and racial attitudes. — As in other northern cities, there is no "J™ 
Crow" separation of the races on street cars in Chicago. The contacts of 
Negroes and whites on the street cars never provoked any considerable dis- 
cussion until the period of Negro migration from the South, when occasional 
stories of clashes began to be circulated, but only one such incident was re- 
ported in the newspapers. Even since the migration began there have been 
few complaints based upon racial friction in transportation contacts. 

In response to inquiries, the South Side Elevated Company, which has the 
largest Negro traffic of any elevated line, replied that except during the riot 
in 1919, when a few cases of racial disorder were reported, there had been no 
complaints from motormen or trainmen since 191 8, when a trainman was cut 
by a Negro but not seriously injured. No complaints from white passengers 
had been received since the spring of 191 7, when white office workers objected 
to riding with Stock Yards laborers, mainly Negroes, on the Stock Yards spur 
of the elevated. White laborers in the Stock Yards mostly lived within walking 
distance of their work, but Negroes found it necessary to use car lines running 
east to the main Negro-residence area. The Chicago Surface Lines replied 
that complaints due to racial friction were neghgible. 

Information obtained by investigators for the Commission showed that 
the attitude of Negroes and whites toward each other was being affected by 
contacts on the cars. A white woman in the Hyde Park district, an officer 
of the IlUnois Federation of Woman's Clubs, when interviewed upon race 
relations, made special reference to transportation contacts. She said: 

WhUe Negroes are coming into this neighborhood, especially on Lake Park, 
I see little of them, except on the street car. There I must say I have a decided 
opinion. Just last evening around five o'clock, I took a Lake Park car at Fortieth 
Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, and several colored men saw to it that they were 
first to board the car. I had to sit near the front and a great big Negro man sat next 
to me, smoking a cigar right in the car. I told my husband when I got home, I was 
for moving them aU out of the city, and I never felt like that toward them until just 
of late. There's a feeling of resentment among us white people toward the colored 
people on the cars, and they feel that, and they feel the same resentment toward us. 
I think I see that very plainly. Last night, on this same car, a colored man was 
hanging over me, and I know he didn't want me there near him, any more than 
I wanted him. 

As a factor in attitudes on race relations, transportation contacts, while 
impersonal and temporary, are significant for several reasons. In the first 
place, many whites have no contact with Negroes except on the cars, and their 
personal impressions of the entire Negro group may be determined by one or 


two observations of Negro passengers. Secondly, transportation contacts are 
not supervised, as are contacts in the school, the playground, and the workshop. 
If there is a dispute between passengers over a seat it usually rests with the 
passengers themselves to come to an understanding. Any feeling of suspicion 
or prejudice on either side because of the difference in race accentuates any 
such misunderstanding. In the third place, transportation contacts, at least 
on crowded cars, involve a degree of physical contact between Negroes and 
whites which rarely occurs under other circumstances, and which sometimes 
leads to a display of racial feeUng. 

Scope and method of investigation. — In obtaining information as to transpor- 
tation contacts the Commission's investigators, both white and Negro, men 
and women, made many observation trips on the twelve Hues carrying the 
heaviest volume of Negro trafi&c and therefore involving the greatest amount 
of contact. Counts of passengers, Negro and white, were made, behavior 
and habits were noted, passengers and car crews were questioned, and officials 
of the surface and elevated lines, starters, and station men were interviewed. 

Superintendents of 123 industrial plants were interviewed to ascertain 
the numbers of whites and Negroes employed in ofl&ces and in plants, transporta- 
tion lines used by workers, nature of work and its effect upon cleanliness of 
person and clothing, provision of baths, etc. A further source of information 
was a report made for the ofi&cers of the Central Manufacturing District, 
setting forth the transportation facilities for the 12,000 employees of the 
district and providing data drawn from questionnaires filled out by these 
employees. The district includes the area from Thirty-fifth to Forty-third 
streets and from Morgan to Robey streets. 


Negro trafi&c is fairly continuous throughout the day in the Negro residence 
areas, and the proportion of Negroes and whites is about the same at different 
hours of the day. Except during the times of going to and from work the cars 
are not overcrowded, and the danger of friction is therefore small. On the 
routes cormecting the Negro residence areas with the Stock Yards and with 
South Chicago, where many Negroes are employed in steel plants, the Negro 
trafi&c is confined to a few hours in the morning and late afternoon, but at these 
hours the cars are very crowded. There is much rushing to board cars and 
get seats, and white ofi&ce workers and other non-laborers are thrown into 
contact with Negro laborers still in their working clothes. It is under such 
circumstances that irritation and actual clashes are most likely to arise. It 
should be noted that similar contacts with white laborers in their working 
clothes are disagreeable in the same ways, though in such cases the odors and 
grime are not associated with race and color. 

The hours of greatest general travel and car crowding were found to be 
from six to nine o'clock in the morning and from four to six o'clock in the 




Proportion or negro to total PAssENOtRS on 


Surface Lines Elevated Une5 

60 TO 100 '^ I' '■' J CZSTJga 






Proportion or negro to total passeinccrs on 


Surface LiNt5 Elevated liNCS 

NECRO TRArric 1 TO 20 * I " J cr-i^___i 

20 TO 60*; \ . ...1 CT. — : — 3 

«> " 60 TO ;(J'. ' 



The proportions of whites and Negroes on lines carrjdng the largest numbers 
of Negroes to and from work are shown in two diagrams. These are based 
on counts of white and Negro passengers, several trips being averaged to show 
typical car loads during the heavy travel of early morning and late afternoon. 
The first diagram shows the proportions in travel from the Negro residence 
areas of the South and West sides toward the Stock Yards, the other large 
industries employing Negroes, and the "Loop" district during the period from 
six to nine a.m. The second diagram shows the proportions in travel from the 
Stock Yards, the other industries, and the "Loop" toward the Negro residence 
areas of the South and West sides during the period from four to six p.m. 


As ahready noted, contacts of Negroes and whites on street cars provoked 
little discussion until the migration of Negroes from the South began to be 
felt. The great majority of the migrants are laborers. Many of them are 
ignorant and rough mannered, entirely unfamiliar with standards of conduct 
in northern cities. It is this type which is meant in references hereinafter 
to the "migration" or "southern" Negro. 

Coming to a city Hke Chicago, with no "Jim Crow" racial segregation, 
was a new experience to many southern Negroes. They felt strange and 
uncertain as to how they should act. Many whites and Negroes long resident 
in Chicago have said that they could tell a migration Negro by his ill-at-ease 
manner and often by his clothes. 

The conspicuous points in the behavior of the migration Negro before he 
became urbanized were his "loud laughing and talking," his "ill-smelHng 
clothes," his "roughness," and his tendency to "sit all over the car." These 
are easier to understand when one considers the background of the southern 

Few white people realized how uncertain the southern Negro felt about 
making use of his new privilege of sitting anywhere in the car, instead of being 
"Jim Crowed." One Negro woman who came to the city during the migration 
said, when she was asked about her first impression of Chicago: "When I got 
here and got on the street cars and saw colored people sitting by white people, 
I just held my breath, for I thought any minute they would start something. 
Then I saw nobody noticed it, and I just thought this is a real place for 
Negroes." There were exceptional cases in which southern Negroes walked 
miles, rather than take a car. 

It may seem strange in view of such uncertainty of mind and timidity that 
the most noticeable point of behavior of the southern Negro was loud talking, 
joking, and laughter. The South Side Elevated Company, replying to the 
Commission's inquiries, said: "These colored people are of a happy-go-lucky 
type and are often noisy, especially when two or more acquaintances meet 
on the trains or station platforms or crossing from one side of the station to 


the other. They laugh and talk a good deal and seem to be happy and care 

Although some of this boisterousness was no doubt due to a care-free 
spirit and a broad good humor, some of it had quite a different source. Many 
a southern Negro thinks that the whites like him to be "typical," and that 
they will tolerate him as long as his dialect, his wit, and his manner are amusing 
enough. A Negro newspaper of Chicago took the southern Negroes to task 
for using this safety device in Chicago. 

Many whites, clerical workers, shoppers, and others of a non-laboring 
type, have expressed objections to what they term a tendency of Negroes to 
"sit all over the cars," meaning to sit anywhere in the car. This was most 
conspicuous when whites had to ride in the morning on a car which had come 
from one of the Negro residence areas and was already filled with Negroes, 
or when Negroes and whites were boarding a comparatively empty car near one 
of the big industrial plants in the afternoon. The employment manager of the 
Corn Products Company plant at Argo reported a complaint about this 
tendency made to him by one of the girls in the ofi&ce: 

An office girl told me she had trouble getting a seat on the cars. She was not 
able to get a seat by herself and did not want to sit next to a Negro. She said that 
Negroes would rush in and get all the seats by the windows. She thought they did 
it more to tease the office help than anything else. This girl was undoubtedly prej- 
udiced. That was one of her arguments to explain why she had difficulty in getting 
to work in the morning. She is a St. Louis girl of Flemish extraction. 

Many of the southern Negroes were found to be very hesitant about taking 
seats next to whites. The southern tradition was so ingrained in them that 
they tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. On the other hand, some, 
with the sudden removal of the restraints of the South, used their new freedom 
without thought of the effect of their behavior on Chicago whites and Negroes. 

The attitude of migration Negroes was sometunes expressed to the Commis- 
sion's investigators. For example: 

You can spend your money as you please, live better and get more enjoyment 
out of it — I mean go where you please, without being Jim-Crowed. 

There's no lynching or Jim Crow. You can vote, you receive better treatment 
and more money for your work. 

The freedom of speech and action. You can live without fear and there's no 
Jim Crow. 

Some southern Negroes apparently came to Chicago with a real grudge 
against aU whites and ready at slight provocation to display their resentment. 
The minister of one of the Negro churches in Chicago said: 

After years of restriction and proscription to which they were subjected in the 
South, they suddenly find themselves freed in a large measure of these conditions. 
Their mind harks back to that which they endured at the hands of members of the 


Aryan race in the South, and they grow resentful, and in the midst of their new 
environment they vent their spleen. One has but to ride on any of the surface lines 
running into the section of Chicago largely occupied by my race group to be convinced 
of the facts mentioned above. 

The southern Negro who got into trouble with whites by insisting on his 
right to a seat sometimes belonged to the class of suspicious and sensitive 
Negroes, and sometimes he was simply a "greenhorn." The following cases 
show how "green" the migration Negro could be, and how easy it was for him 
to make himself disliked and ridiculous. The first case was observed by a 
Negro man, the second by a Negro woman, both long resident in Chicago: 

I boarded a crowded car in the "Loop" going south and was forced to stand near 
the rear door. There are two lengthwise seats at the rear of the car, one of which will 
hold three people and one of which wiU hold two. Two colored women, carelessly 
dressed and holding greasy paper bundles in their hands, got on the car at Twelfth 
Street and stood in the back of the car hanging on to straps. They rode this way 
until Eighteenth Street, when one of them, a large woman, noticing that there were 
three white people on one of the seats and only two on the other said to her companion, 
"If three folks can sit on that seat, I ain't going to stand over these white folks, 
who are just hke they are down South, and don't want you to sit down. I'm going 
to sit down myself." She then inserted herself between the two white women, 
one of whom was pushed to the floor. The Negro woman was much embarrassed, 
but I don't think she has yet realized that the seats were of different lengths. 

I was on a State Street car when two southern Negro women got on, talking loud, 
and throwing themselves around loose and careless like. I was sitting on one of the 
end seats, just big enough for three, and one of the women says to the other, "Here's 
a seat, here's a seat." "You move over," she said to me. There was fire in their 
eyes, and I don't like fightmg, so I made up my mind that if they started anything 
I'd get up and give them my seat. Most people would have understood how you 
felt if you did that, but I am not sure they would have understood. I said to one of 
them, "There really isn't room on this seat." She gave me a shove, so I said, "But 
I'll get up and give you my seat." You wouldn't believe what happened then. 
The conductor came in and said, "You just keep your seat." And a white man, 
who was sitting in one of the cross-seats, turned around and said, "I'll see that she 

Soiled and ill-smelling clothes were a large factor in making Negro working- 
men objectionable to many whites even of the same working class. 

At the time of the migration, in the fall of 191 6 and the spring of 191 7, 
the Stock Yards were taking on hundreds of Negro laborers to increase their 
war-time production, and these new hands, most of them migration Negroes, 
rode to and from work with white office workers. How the white office workers 
felt about it is shown by a statement of a white woman clerk in the Stock 

Some of the Negroes on the Thirty-fifth Street car are very rough. Most of 
them work out at the Stock Yards and the smell of the Yards is very bad. They seem 


to try to clean up, but the smell is there, especially in cold weather when the cars 
are closed. I would suggest that they run special cars from the Stock Yards for those 
people, and that would leave enough cars for us and we wouldn't get the odor either. 

This situation was somewhat remedied by the fact that most of the Negro 
laborers at least changed their clothes before going home, even if they could 
not entirely rid themselves of the Stock Yards odor; also the hours for Stock 
Yards employees were so arranged that the office workers came to work later 
and left later than the white and Negro laborers. 

The Negro press of Chicago tried to make the migration Negro realize 
how the odor attaching to his clothes was affecting public opinion. The 
Chicago Searchlight of May 22, 1920, had this exhortation by the editor: 

Did you ever get on the elevated train at Indiana Avenue about 5:30 o'clock 
in the afternoon, and meet the "gang" from the Stock Yards? It would make you 
ashamed to see men and women getting on the cars with greasy overalls on and 
dirty dresses in this enhghtened age. There is really no excuse for such a condition 
to exist. There is plenty of soap and water in the Stock Yards and you have better 
clothes in your homes. Why not take a suit to the yards and wash up and change 
your clothing, before attempting to mingle with men and women, many of them 
being dressed for theaters and club parties, etc. ? Don't you know that you are forcing 
on us here in Chicago a condition similar to the one down South ? 

In order to find out whether Negroes working in other plants than the 
Stock Yards do work which leaves the worker soiled and smelling, superin- 
tendents or foremen were questioned. It was learned that much other work 
done by Negro laborers leaves oil, grease, and acid stains, that many of the 
plants have no baths or adequate facilities for washing, and that sometimes 
where there are such facilities they are not kept in order. Three-fourths of 
the superintendents and foremen interviewed had the impression that Negroes 
were more careful about bathing and changing their clothes than whites. 
They said the difference was probably due either to the fact that the white 
laborer who was doing the same class of work as the Negro, was an immi- 
grant, or to the fact that the white laborer often lived near the plant where 
he works, and preferred to wash up at home. 

The Negro laborer meets little objection when he is riding with white 
laborers; it is when he comes in contact with whites of a non-laboring class 
that there is the most likelihood of trouble. Such whites often find white 
laborers quite as objectionable. A lawyer in Indiana Harbor who was ques- 
tioned about the transportation contacts in the Calumet industrial district, 

So far as transportation is concerned, little trouble need be expected. Most of 
the people here are working people, and they know what to expect when a dirty 
workman comes and sits down next to them. The fact of it is that if there is any 
complaint to be made, it would be against the foreigners. In the winter, when the 
doors are closed, the smell of garlic is almost unbearable. 


Another complaint from whites is that Negroes on the street cars are 
"rough." It is significant, however, that all the incidents related to the 
Commission in regard to "roughness" occurred on crowded cars. The rush 
to get on a car before or after working hours is often heavy. The Commission's 
investigator, describing the loading of cars at an important transfer point 
near the Stock Yards at the evening rush hour, said: 

I observed the loading and transfers at Ashland and Forty-seventh from three 
to four o'clock in the afternoon. With the possible exception of six to seven in the 
morning the traffic is heaviest at this time. The transfers from the Ashland to the 
Forty-seventh Street car are mostly Negroes from the government plants at Thirty- 
ninth and Robey. About 40 per cent of them are women. Cars going east on Forty- 
seventh Street leave every five minutes. There is a supervisor on this corner, whose 
duty it apparently is to supervise the arrival and departure of cars. He pays no 
attention, however, to the matter of loading. Usually the men meet the car in the 
middle of the block and cUmb on while it is moving. By the time the car reaches the 
corner the seats are all taken and the doorway is congested. The women, like the 
men, get on as they can. No deference is shown them. Most of those who get on 
this car are colored, and most of them, colored and white alike, are workmen. 

Some friction between whites and Negroes has occurred during the boarding 
of cars. It may be caused by general racial attitude as well as by the circum- 
stances of the particular case. The following cases were both related by white 
men, one an assistant superintendent in a foundry, and the other a barber: 

One of our employees (Negro) in running to catch a car accidentally knocked 
over a white man. The white man became particularly abusive, and the crowd 
joined in with hun. The crowd attempted to beat the Negro up, but he ran back to 
the plant here for protection and we quieted them down. 

I remember one time about three years ago, I was coming home on the Forty- 
seventh Street car and two Negroes were standing on the back. It was pretty 
crowded. A man swung his wife on board, and two more white men jiunped on 
too. He got her through into the car, and one of the Negroes said to her: "I'm 
going to get that husband of yours." I went up and stood in back of the white man 
and told him I'd stand by him, if anything happened. There were lots of whites on 
the car but about half Negroes, I guess. I think the Negroes have too much freedom. 
They don't know how to act. Some of those Negroes on the street car are real 

The South Side Elevated Company, in answer to a questionnaire said: 
"It requires constant watching to prevent Negroes from entering and leaving 
cars through the windows." The following incident, reported by the Com- 
mission's investigator, who traveled over all the lines used by Negroes, shows 
that both whites and Negroes may climb through the windows under the same 
conditions of crowding: 

I was transferring from the Argo car to the Sixty-third Street car with a number 
of white and Negro workmen from the Corn Products Refining Company. The 


crowd rushed for the door, and the doorway soon became congested. Two white 
men climbed in the car through the back window, followed immediately by a Negro. 
When the conductor came up, a white woman, who was standing next to me and had 
seen the whole performance, said to the conductor, indicating the Negro, who had 
climbed in through the window: "I wouldn't take his fare, if I were you. He came in 
through the window." 

Selection of seats by white and Negro passengers often provides instances 
of conduct which is based on racial prejudices. These seem to be most frequent 
on lines with comparatively light travel by Negroes and where there is thus less 
opportunity for the races to become accustomed to contact. Sometimes 
whites show plainly their avoidance of Negroes. 

Some Negroes have timidly offered their seats to women standing, and have 
been chagrined by the refusal of the white women to accept the courtesy. 
The superintendent of one of the plants where Negroes work made the following 

Negroes seemingly refrain from showing courtesy to white women, such as offering 
them their seats, because of two facts. Either the woman to whom the courtesy 
was extended, or outsiders, seem to the Negro to place a wrong construction upon his 
courtesy. They think him either fresh or servile, and in the majority of cases where 
a Negro would extend such courtesies, he refrains from doing so. 

A few Negroes justified themselves by pointing out that white men did 
not give up their seats for Negro women, and so they did not intend to give 
up their seats for white women. The editor of a Negro newspaper took Negro 
men to task for their disregard of white women and also women of their own 
race, as follows: 

Do you know that there is a growing tendency among the young men of our race 
to show disrespect for our womanhood ? If you don't think so, just get on a street 
car or visit pubUc amusement places, or even notice their actions as they walk along 
the street. It is nothing to see hundreds of big strong young men sitting on our cars, 
while women stand until they become ahnost exhausted, while those "fellows" sit 
and read their papers or gaze out of the car windows. 

There is one trait, and I might say only one, that I take off my hat to the southern 
"Cracker" for, and that is his respect and high regard for women. While he hasn't 
any for the other fellow's [the Negro's] wives and daughters, yet he respects his own. 
We must set a good example for him and respect all women, regardless of race, color, 
or creed. Then you will win the admiration of all civilized people. Men who do 
not respect and honor their women are not worthy of citizenship. Do you get me, 
brother ? 

White men have become much incensed when they have given seats to 
white women, and Negro men, not realizing what had happened, took the seats. 
The timekeeper at a large industrial plant said: 

I was on an East Chicago Whiting car. Six Negro workmen were standing. 
The car was full about one-third with Negroes. A man got up to let a white woman 
sit down. A Negro, seeing the seat vacated, sat down before the woman had a chance 


to get to it. The man who had proffered the seat became indignant, cursed the Negro, 
yanked him out of his seat, and proceeded to beat hun up. The Negro drew out a 
knife. About this tune, it became a general race clash. One of the Negro workmen 
had a gim: he pulled it out of his pocket and cleaned out the car. 

The following incidents were reported by two white investigators: 
I was on a Cottage Grove Avenue car at 5 : 30 p.m. The car was crowded, about 
one-third colored people. A yoimg, well-dressed colored boy of about twenty was 
standing in the aisle beside a white man and a white woman. The seat directly in 
front of this colored boy was vacated, and the white man made a move to seize it, 
but the boy by holding his arm on the back of the seat barred the white man's way 
and stepped aside to allow the woman to sit down. The woman nodded her thanks 
to the boy, and the white man went on reading his paper. 

I was on an eastbound Oak Park elevated train at about 10:30 a.m. Several 
Pullman porters got on at Campbell Avenue and had to stand, as did several white 
women and men. As the crowd began to thin out, I noticed that the white men were 
apt to drop into a vacant seat themselves, while the Negro porters were careful to 
wait untU the women sat down before they took advantage of any vacant seats. 

A white woman in the Hyde Park district said to one of the investigators: 
On the street cars I would rather ride with Negro gentlemen than with many 
of our so-called white gentlemen. A Negro man who has the sUghtest training is 
courteous and genuinely so. My children use the street car every day to go to the 
Hyde Park High School, and it's not the Negro men on the street cars I hate to think 
of; it's the cheap white men. A very rough element of whites congregate every 
night on Lake Park near Fifty-first Street — hoodlimas that the colored people living 
there must fear. 

No case of attempted familiarity by a Negro man toward a white woman on 
the street cars was reported to the Commission, Cases were reported, however, 
of accidental contacts between Negro men and white women which might 
easily have been misunderstood, but which seemed to the investigator, a 
white woman, to be due to the clumsiness of southern rural Negroes in crowded 
cars. Two such cases follow: 

I was on a Madison car going west. A number of Negroes got on at the North- 
western Station. The car was crowded, and I felt someone in the aisle leaning 
heavily against my shoulder. I was very much annoyed and glanced up. I saw 
that the man was a Negro about twenty years old. He was with a girl, obviously 
his sister, who was also standing in the aisle. They both had chUdhke faces, and 
I coiold see that he was quite unaware that he was leaning against me. I didn't 
say anything, as the car was really crowded. 

I was in the aisle seat of an Illinois Central suburban car about 5 :oo p.m., waiting 
for the train to start. A Negro man standing in the aisle next to me suddenly leaned 
against my shoulder so hard that it hurt. I looked up at him resentfully but he 
didn't notice me. He looked as though he had been picked up in a Uttle western 
town and dumped down in a city for the first time. He had a wide western hat on, 


and his face was lean and weatherbeaten. I take it he was about fifty years old. 
He was in animated conversation with a woman in a seat behind me. This woman 
had many bimdles. Apparently they wanted to find seats together. Soon another 
man joined them who had been scouting for seats in the car ahead, and they all set 
out together for another car. They were so concentrated on this problem of gettmg 
a seat that they didn't know there was anyone else in the car. They lunged down 
the aisle knocking against people as they went along, but no one paid any particular 
attention to them. 

Another case of accidental contact, showing an attitude of suspicion on 
the part of a white woman, was reported by a Negro Y.M.C.A. secretary: 

I was on a street car going west through the "Loop" on Madison Street. A 
colored man, apparently a workman, was sitting across the aisle from me, looking 
out of the window, with his left arm stretched along the back of the seat. A white 
woman came in, glanced at the vacant seat beside me, and sat down beside the 
colored man across the aisle. He looked around and saw the woman sitting in the 
seat, and apparently was confused. He attempted to remove his arm, and in doing 
so his arm brushed across the woman's shoulder. She got right up and exclaimed: 
"How dare you put your arm around me?" The man looked at her dumbly, his 
face the picture of excitement and wonder. I said to the lady, "I was watching this 
man and he was honestly trying to remove his arm from the back of the seat. I 
think he was more surprised to find you there than anything else, and the whole thing 
was sheer accident." She wanted to know what I had to do with it, and I sunply said 
I wouldn't hke to see a matter of that kind misunderstood. She resumed her seat 
beside the colored man and nothing further happened. 

Many cases of improper advances by white men toward Negro women 
were reported to the Commission by Negro women, well known to the Com- 
mission, whose character is beyond question. The following are typical: 

Going south on a State Street car to Fifty-third Street, I noticed a man in the 
aisle staring at me. He kept moving down nearer and nearer to my seat and sat 
down in front of me. He handed me a note written on a scrap of newspaper. I 
opened it because I was curious to know what his motive was. He was a young man, 
in his twenties, and well dressed. He had written down his name and telephone 
number and the words: "Call me for a date." 

I remember one man especially, because I used to ride downtown on the same car 
he took every morning. The first time I ever saw him, he stared at me a great deal 
and when I got off the car, he got off too. As he got off he said to me, "Don't take 
that car, wait for the other one." I noticed then that he went over to the corner and 
took a car going in the opposite direction from mine. I saw him lots of times after 
that, and he always got just as close as he could and stared. I always arranged it so 
that he could not sit next to me. 

I was on the elevated with a friend the other day. We were sitting on end seats. 
A man got up to give a white woman his seat and then came over and stood close 
to us. He stood with his legs against my friend's knees, until she jerked around 


and sat facing me. Then he tried standing close to me. He had me so hedged in 
I could hardly move, and I had to make a very abrupt movement to get away. He 
moved on after a while. 

What may be done to prevent misunderstanding and check in its incipiency 
trouble which might easily and suddenly become serious, is illustrated in the 
action of a white woman, a resident of the Chicago Commons Social Settlement: 

One evening, soon after the race riot in July, 1919, I was riding on a State Street 
car, gomg south from Grand Avenue. I had only ridden a block, when there was a 
general stir in the car, a yoimg woman fainted, and I learned that the conductor had 
been struck and his cap knocked off. Word went around the car that a "nigger" 
did it. Ugly remarks were being made and I feared there would be trouble. I 
stepped to the back of the car and asked two colored women if they knew who struck 
the conductor. One said, "He looked Uke a colored man," the other said, "I don't 
know." Then I asked the conductor, in a voice loud enough so that the rest of the car 
could hear me, whether it was a white or a black man that struck him and why. 
He said : " It was a white man. I wouldn't let hun bring his big drum on the platform, 
it was too crowded." Having learned this, I turned to two young couples who were 
still showing much feeling and said, "A white man struck the conductor." The whole 
car then quieted down, and there was no more feeling. 

Most of the difficulties in transportation contacts reported and generally 
complained of seem to have centered around the first blundering efforts of 
migrants to adjust themselves to northern city life. The efiforts of agencies 
interested in assisting this adjustment, together with the Negro press, and the 
intimate criticisms and suggestion for proper conduct of Chicago Negroes, 
have smoothed down many of the roughnesses of the migrants, and as a result 
friction from contact in transportation seems to have lessened materially. 


Here are included: 

I. Contacts in public places, such as restaurants, department stores, 
theaters, and personal-service places. 

II. "Black and tan" resorts, which present a much-criticized association 
because of the vicious elements of whites and Negroes in contact there. 

HI. Cultural contacts which indicate associations on a purely intellectual 

IV. Contacts in co-operative efforts for race betterment, which includes 
most of the social organizations working among Negroes. 


On the street, in public conveyances, stores, restaurants, and commercial 
places of amusement, contacts of races and natioimlities are unavoidable 
and have not the supervision that is common in schools or even public amuse- 
ment places. 


Where large numbers of Negroes live there are theaters, restaurants, 
stores, barber shops, and personal-service places, which are used by Negroes 
in the proportion in which they predominate in the population of the area. 
In any or all of these places, however, white persons are served. 

The business district along State Street between Twenty-sixth and Forty- 
seventh, and on the car-line cross-streets, is maintained partly by, and largely 
for, the Negro residents in the general neighborhood. Since, however, about 
50 per cent of the population is white, there are personal-service places which 
are used almost exclusively by whites. Barber shops are wholly exclusive, 
and several restaurants attempt to make themselves so. For example: 

At Thirty-first Street and Indiana Avenue, in the heart of the Negro residence 
area, a restaurant proprietor maintains an L-shaped establishment. Fronting on 
Thirty-first Street is a neatly arranged and well-kept dining-room, with tables for 
ladies, and a lunch counter with white waiters. Fronting on Indiana Avenue is a 
narrow, dark dining-room, with a counter served by colored waitresses. It is not 
kept neatly, and is not so well supplied. Both dining-rooms are served from the 
kitchen in the comer of the L, and patrons in either dining-room would never suspect 
that there were two dining-rooms with connection through this kitchen. At the time 
of the investigation, the dining-rooms had different names. 

Negroes entering the Indiana Avenue dining-room are given prompt service. 
If they enter the Thirty-first Street room they are given indifferent service, are required 
to wait long and the service given them is reluctant and discourteous. 

At another restaurant in the same neighborhood, similar means are used to dis- 
courage Negro patronage. Sometimes in addition to long waiting and discourtesy, 
food is spoiled. For example, egg sheUs are placed in egg orders, and salt is poured 
into the food. 

In the districts where whites predominate, the measures taken to exclude 
Negroes are very definite. In a lunchroom near Forty-third Street and 
Vincennes Avenue, a well-educated, well-appearing young Negro had the 
following experience: 

I went into the restaurant about two o'clock June 13, and sat about four seats 
from the front at a counter. After about ten minutes the waiter came and asked me 
to move to a seat at the rear of the counter. I asked him why and he told me he could 
not serve me where I was sitting. He said the management reserved the right to 
seat its guests, and pointed to a sign on the wall bearing that notice. I asked him if 
he could not serve me just as well where I was sittmg as on the rear counter. He 
said maybe he could, but it was a rule of the house not to, and he would not. I left 
without being served. 

Another Negro experience in a lunchroom on Forty-third Street near the 
Elevated is thus described: "Service given was very poor. When protest 
was made, the police were called and the young man was arrested for disorderly 
conduct. The case was dismissed." 

Fifty-ninth and Halsted streets: " Service refused in a Swedish cafe. No 


Near Berwyn and Broadway (North Side) : " Service refused, and investi- 
gator ordered out." 

In the " Loop, " experiences are widely varied. In all of the following cases, 
carefully selected investigators were sent and asked to report in detail what 
happened. It is possible to gather large numbers of personal experiences, 
from any group of Negroes, but as the facts cannot be verified they have not 
been used. These instances usually go unnoticed by all but the participants, 
except where the parties offended may secure witnesses among the guests 
present, which is difficult. 

At a large, popular, general restaurant on Randolph Street, two women 
investigators had this typical experience showing how a manager can refuse 
service, and still attempt to keep within the law: 

Entered about 7:30 p.m. The restaurant was well filled; I counted only six 
vacant tables. A woman head waitress took us through the main dining-room to 
the annex, where another head waitress preceded us down the length of the room to 
a corner table in the rear. There was a vacant table on either side of us. We waited 
almost a half hour, with no attention, until a couple was seated at the next table- 
When the waitress brought water to them she also brought water to us. She took 
the orders for both tables. Mrs. H— ordered steak, salad and tea. I ordered 
chicken salad and tea. Steak and potatoes were served to the next table in about 
ten minutes. The waitress came to me and said the chef said he was out of chicken, 
I ordered steak. After another long period of waitmg, she came back and said, 
"The chef says he is out of small steaks." I asked, "What have you?" She said 
she would go and see. She did not return, but after about fifteen minutes a man came 
to our table, put his hands on it, leaned down and said, "Do you want to see me ?" 
Although I suspected he was the manager, he had not said so, and I replied, "Who 
are you? I don't know anything about you. No, we don't want to see you." 
He then said, "I am the manager. What do you want ? " "I came to be served with 
dinner." He replied, "We have nothing to serve you." I asked, "Why, what is 
the reason?" He replied "There is no reason; we haven't anything to serve you." 
He was evidently cautious to keep within the letter of the law, but was determined 
that we should not be served. He would give no reason, simply repeating his former 
statement. We left without further discussion, and without being served. 

Mrs. T — says the waitress was courteous, and evidently regretful of the embar- 
rassment of repeated refusal to serve. None of the patrons sitting near made any 
protest at their presence. It has been her experience that patrons, waitresses, ushers 
in theaters rarely show any hesitancy in accepting the presence of colored people who 
are orderly and self-respecting. Almost invariably the disagreeable incidents happen 
through the management, or through the carrying out of orders. 

An interview with the manager of this restaurant was willingly given to 
a white investigator who later visited the place, and questions were answered 
freely and carefully. He said he had a number of Negro friends and appreciated 
the differences in them, as he did in whites. The main points in a long discus- 
sion of restaurant management in general, and the particular problem with 
reference to serving Negroes, he summed up as follows: 


In the past five years, only one Negro has been served in this restaurant. She 
came in with a southern family as maid to a small child. The family was told that 
she could be served at a table with them, or in a side room, but could not be served 
at an adjoining table, even with the child. After some discussion, the maid ate at 
one end of a long table with the child, while the family sat at the other end. 

At the time of the recent instance, when the two Negro women came in, the 
manager was not in the restaurant. From what he was told of the incident, he 
thinks he should have asked them to come to the office, and explained the situation 
to them. He had no doubt they would have understood, as he has always found 
intelligent Negroes readily responsive to the things which might be injurious to their 
relations with whites. 

Before he was manager, a man brought in two Negroes, seemingly to get a basis 
for a suit and damages. The manager offered to serve them in a side room, but 
refused service in the main dining-room. They left without being served, and nothing 
further was heard from them. 

In former years he had seen dishes broken in the presence of Negroes after being 
used in high-grade restaurants where their patronage was not wanted. 

Barring Negroes was not personal, he said. A successful restaurant must watch 
closely the desires of its patrons, and not aUow anything to interfere with smooth 
running. Complaints are made after each appearance of Negroes. He did not know 
what he would do if Negroes insisted on being served, but was firm that no Negro 
could be served in the main dining-rooms. He would vary procedure to suit the 

The following case, illustrative of the witnesses and testimony necessary 
to a court decision, was tried before Judge Adams, and damages of $ioo with 
costs were awarded: 

In August, 1920, Miss Lillian Beale, Negro secretary to Miss Ameha Sears, 
white, superintendent of the United Charities, went as the guest of her employer 
to a candy shop and lunch room on Michigan Avenue. They seated themselves and 
remained for two hours without service. During this time several friends of Miss 
Sears came in, were served and left, all of them commenting on the apparently delib- 
erate oversight of the party. They remained for some time and left. Suit was 
brought against the company, supported by Miss Sears and her friends. At the first 
hearing it was stated that the waitress was iU at a hospital in Cincinnati. The 
judge, however, was insistent, and she was produced. When placed on the stand 
she admitted, contrary to the expectations of the management, that she had been 
ordered by the management not to serve any colored persons at any time. Miss 
Beale was awarded and collected damages of $100 and costs. 

Eight months later, in July, 192 1, a test was made of the same restaurant. 
Two Negro women went together to the restaurant, and a white woman 
observer went along to watch what might happen. Their reports agree and 
are as follows: 

Time, one o'clock. Restaurant 50 per cent fiUed. Mrs. L — and Mrs. S — 
came in and seated themselves at a table for two near the center of the room. Waitress 
followed usual routine of bringing water, taking order, etc. Service of a table d' h6te 


luncheon was prompt and courteous. No inattention was observed, nor any dis- 
turbance on part of neighbors. Two white women came in and seated themselves 
at the next table, though there were several others vacant. 

Two other Negro women and a white observer were sent to another restau- 
rant operating under the same firm name. It was reported by the white 
observer as follows : 

Restaurant two thirds filled — 12 o'clock. Mostly women patrons, though a 
fair number of men alone, and of couples use this restaurant. Mrs. T — ■ and her 
friend came in through the long passage by the candy counter, and crossed to a table 
for two in the middle of the room. The manager, who is a young women of consider- 
able poise and ability, came at once and gave them water, took their order, and later 
served them. Two young white women at an adjoining table moved, but it may have 
been because they were sitting with strangers and preferred a table for two. After 
finishing my lunch, I joined Mrs. T — and her friend, and the manager kept us 
under observation, but nothing was said. 

In a subsequent interview with the manager at the general office of this 
chain of tea rooms cautiously worded replies were made to questions, with 
constant reiteration of the statement, "But you know we must serve them." 
In general it was said: 

Negro patrons are infrequent, and there has been no noticeable increase. After 
many cases, complaint is made by white patrons, either in person or by letter, to 
the effect that if the tea room caters to Negroes, the white patrons will no longer use 
it. They had never known of a case of objectionable conduct but whites simply 
objected to their presence. 

No instructions were given waitresses, but each case was handled by the head 
waitress as it occurred. Some girls made no objections to waiting on Negroes, and 
some refused to do it, but each attitude is individual, and not from instructions. 
No question that Negro patronage would hurt any high-grade place, as white patrons 
would be hkely to leave. Rights did not enter into the problem — simply a matter 
of profitable business. 

Interviews with managers of tea rooms in department stores brought out 
uniformity of attitude and of practice, as is shown in the following reports: 

The manager of one tea room is a young woman of considerable experience. 
She was emphatic in saying that Negroes were not wanted, and that every effort 
would be made to discourage their coming. Considerable personal feeling was 
manifested in her statements. 

Not enough Negroes can afford to pay the prices in high-grade restaurants to 
make them a real problem, and stray cases are handled as they appear. The effort 
was made to make them feel uncomfortable so they would not return. Slow service, 
indifferent attention were given, but there was no overcharging, and no spoiling of 

Had never observed any objectionable conduct. Objections of white patrons 
was only reason. Especially difficult in summer, when many southern white people 
come to Chicago as a summer resort. 


Waitresses are largely young married women with spare time. Manager finds 
them more unwilling than regular waitresses to give service to Negroes. 

At another tea room practically the same statements were made, and the 
following instance was given: "Last winter a telephone reservation was made 
for a large luncheon party — about forty. When the group arrived, it was a 
club of colored women. Screens were placed around the tables, and luncheon 
served. A rule was then made and enforced that no telephone reservations 
would be made." 

Following are reports from investigators seeking to learn at which restau- 
rants, tea rooms, and lunch counters, service would be given to Negroes : 

We had been shopping down town, and went into 's on State Street to get 

a light lunch. There were vacant tables and we sat down. No one came to wait 
on us. After waiting until several persons who had come in after us had been served, 
I went to one of the men who appeared to be the manager, and asked him why we 
were not served. He did not respond very cordially, but sent a girl. We ordered 
several dishes from the card, and were told that they were "just out." Although orders 
were being served, the girl stated that they were "just out" of everything we ordered. 
To cover our embarrassment, we practically begged her to serve us cups of chocolate. 
She gave us the chocolate and our check; we paid it and left. 

Mrs. T — and Mrs. — were served promptly and without incident in a well- 
known candy store in the shopping district on State Street. Mrs. T — says that 
for many years this place has been known for its courtesy to colored people. Soon 
after it was opened, about World's Fair year, Mrs. — , a Negro woman, was refused 
service by a waitress. She reported the fact to the owner, who investigated, and find- 
ing her statement correct, discharged the waitress. He made the rule that every 
patron was entitled to prompt, courteous service, and that discharge would follow 
any justified complaint. Although the store has been under other management 
for many years, later adding light luncheons to candy and soft drinks, the tradition 
has continued. Mrs. T — says neither waitress nor patrons paid any attention 
to the serving of two colored women. 

This case, involving three races, was reported from one of the Chinese 
restaurants on South Wabash Avenue: 

About 7 : CO p.m. we entered a Chinese restaurant. There were three or four white 
couples eating in the main dining-room, and two in booths. A Japanese waiter 
ushered us toward the furthest booth at the rear of the room. "I prefer sitting in 
the main dining-room," I said. He rephed, "I can't serve you here." "Why?" 
"These seats are reserved. I will serve you in there [pointing to the booth] but not 
out here." We left. 

One of the largest chains of cafeterias in Chicago is noted for the fairness 
of its treatment of Negroes, but even here there are exceptions. One of the 
Commission's staff observed two incidents within a short time in the same 
cafeteria of this system and reported them as follows: 


Just in line before me was a small, qiiiet, well-dressed colored woman. She passed 
the checker, carried her tray to an unoccupied table, and then counted her check. 
She took her tray back to the checker, and made complaint of overcharge. The 
checker did not recount, or explain, simply saying, "That is our price." The woman 
went back to her table, ate, paid, and went out without further protest. 

A few nights later, I noticed two young, weU-mannered colored girls at a nearby 
table. As I went out I met the manager and said to him, "Do many Negroes come 
here to eat?" He said, "No, occasionally they come in, but they don't come back 
more than once, or at most twice." "How do you manage it ? " "Well, under the law, 
we can't refuse to let them eat, but we can charge them any price we Uke. The first 
tune we charge them enough to keep them from coming back. Then if they persist 
and come again, as soon as they go down the line, I see to it that something is put in 
their food which makes it taste bad — salt or Epsom salts. They never come back 
after that." After a pause he added, "You know we are within the law. We can't 
have them coming here — it would ruin our trade." 

In the inexpensive restaurants on the edge of the "Loop, " various practices 
are followed, as indicated by the following reports: 

Miss B. S. met a friend and went into the Cafeteria on Lake Street, near 

State, upstairs. They were served, but the waiter put screens around their table 
while they were eating. 

In May, 1921, 1 went to a lunchroom on Van Buren Street to get a lunch at noon. 
Six or seven men were at the counter, and were served as fast as they came in. Finally 
all seats were filled and three waiters were doing nothing, so I asked to be served. 
The waiter pretended not to hear me, then said roughly, "What do you want?" 
I said, "I do not know until I get a biU of fare." He pitched it at me and I asked for 
some baked beans. He stuck his head through the chef's window and gave my 
order. He brought me a plate on which were fourteen beans, and one small roll. 
I asked for a glass of water and he brought me a half-glass. I asked for butter 
(which had been served with two roUs to white patrons) and he said it would cost 
me a nickel. He said with emphasis, "It wiU cost you a nickel." I said, "You give me 
the butter, and then watch me and see if I pay for it." I asked for some pie and he 
gave me a piece about half the size he was serving the others. Then he said again, 
"Remember that butter wUl cost you a nickel extra." I said, "I won't pay it." He 
said, "You will pay for that dinner before you eat a bite of it." I said, "No chance, 
because I am not going to pay you at aU, either before or after I eat. After I have 
finished I wiU pay the cashier at the desk." He looked at me hard and I kept on eating. 
Then he threw me down a check for 25 cents. I said, "Brother, you are 
wrong. My biU is only 20 cents. Your menu says beans are 15 cents and pie is 
5 cents, and you gave me only one roll when to aU of the others you served two." 
He said again, "I told you your butter would cost you a nickel." I said, "Now, you 
watch me right close when I go out and see if I pay for it." I told the cashier that 
my check called for 25 cents when it should be 20, "beans 15, pie 5, and if you can make 
25 out of that aU right." She said, "You know I have to collect what the check calls 
for, or else make good myself." I told her I appreciated her position but would not pay 
25 cents for a 20-cent lunch. Then my waiter stepped up with an iron tap in his hand, 


and said, ' ' I told you that butter would cost you a nickel, and now you pay it or else 

." I said, I will "else," and laid down twenty cents and walked out. At the door 

he gave me a push but did not strike me. 

The white proprietor of a drug-store in a residence neighborhood volun- 
teered this story to a member of the Commission's staff: 

Several years ago, there was a fine old colored man who used to come in frequently 
to buy drugs, suppHes, etc. One day he came in with his wife, sat down at one of the 
Httle tables, and asked for soda water. My clerk refused to serve them, and the 
idea occurred to me that I would serve them myself in such a way that there would 
be no possibility that they woidd ever come back. I compounded a vile concoction 
and served it to them. They tasted it, paid for it, thanked me, and went out without 
making any complaint. I have never got over feeling mean about it. I not only 
humiliated them, and insulted them, but I cheated them out of their money. 

An instance of unusual absence of friction in contacts under conditions 
which might be expected to produce it was given by a white woman who visited 
a restaurant patronized by many whites and Negroes: 

In talking with Mr. O — he asked me, "Would you consider it possible that 
you would voluntarily go into a restaurant and eat your lunch where you might 
have a Negro sitting on the next stool, or perhaps one on either side of you at a table ? " 
I answered promptly, "No, I can't imagine it." He said, "A year ago I wouldn't 
have imagined such a thing possible myself, but now I do it quite frequently. There 
is a restaurant across the street from my ofiice, right here in the heart of the Negro 
district, which a few years ago was a very good one, with regidar table service, excellent 
food, and all the rest. Last year it was changed into a sort of a cafeteria, with a lunch 
counter down one side, and some tables. You get your knife and fork, go to the 
serving counter, and a man gives you on a plate whatever you order. The other day 
I found myself between two colored men, and took a good look at the restaurant. 
There is absolutely no disturbance, or even consciousness of any reason for disturb- 

Today I decided I would try it myself. The restaurant has no frills; it is simply 
an eating-place. I chose a corner seat at a table, because I could see all over the room. 
As I sat down, a courteous arm reached across the table to shove back the used dishes. 
I looked up to say "thank you," and found a good-looking young colored man 
opposite. No further attention was paid to me, nor was there any conscious